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Archive for February, 2012

Immigrant Hair Dryer

My wife recently purchased a new hair dryer.  I don’t think you can buy them old, unless maybe you go to eBay.  Anyway, I know this because of the box on the sink in our bathroom.

On closer inspection, though, I noticed that some of the box was written in Spanish.

My first thought was, and I hope I don’t go to Hell for this, OMG . . . she bought a Mexican Hair Dryer.

This was followed by . . . it probably won’t work.  In fact, our other hair dryers will probably have to work harder to support it.

But don’t worry about us . . . our hair is dry thank you very much . . . it’s made in China.

It’s probably spewing formaldehyde and mercury but at least it works!

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Separated at Birth?

A Pekingese dog, Malachy, won the 2012 Westminster Dog Competition.

Have you seen this dog?

A face only a dog owner could love.

Who does he remind YOU of?

Freaky little monkey.

Can you feel the love tonight?

The King has returned!

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We recently vacationed in Hawaii–on Oahu and Kauai–and had the opportunity to drive around in a rental car with three teenagers.

This is a vacation?

Getting around Hawaii is not as easy as it sounds.  It has to be one of the worst places we have ever been to with regards to the driving experience.  If you already know where you are going, you’ll be just fine.  Being that this was our first trip to the 50th state, we were anything but fine.

For instance, we wanted to visit Pearl Harbor.  Travelling on H-1, a ten lane highway in Honolulu at one point, there are signs over three lanes that say “Pearl Harbor.”  You would think that if you got into one of those lanes, you would be able to get to Pearl Harbor.  Maybe you can.  We couldn’t.  Twice.  From either direction.

We had maps.  We basically knew where the harbor was.  We were on an island for crying out loud.  There’s ocean, shore and inland.  How hard could this be?

But there were no signs that actually told you which exit to take to get to Pearl Harbor.

We couldn’t get there from here.  Or there.  Or anywhere.

There are no signs along the Interstate to tell you what attractions, amenities, facilities or restaurants are available.  You just have to guess.  Or perhaps we should have rented a car with a GPS.  The kids were no help.  They had iPod ear buds in their ears and couldn’t even hear the cries of anguish from the adults up front.

But I digress.

In Kauai, there was a section of highway that was under construction.  We know this because there were signs saying so, not because we actually saw any actual construction occurring.  There were orange barrels.  There was a sign that announced that the project was going to begin in June 2010.  Almost two years later, the road is still under construction.  Maybe they are importing it from China, inch by inch.  Glad I don’t live there.  What the hell am I saying . . . it’s Hawaii.  I WISH I LIVED THERE!  But I’m glad I didn’t have to drive in that traffic every day.

So there we were, tooling along at 5 mph or less in bumper to bumper traffic.  It was midday, and I think maybe the schools were letting out.  As a result, there were some police officers coordinating the traffic jam.

As we passed one of them, out of the corner of my eye, I saw him grab the radio on his shoulder and say something.

I’m in a rental car going 5 miles per hour.  Grandmothers are passing us in hula skirts.  I must be imagining things.  Surely I have done nothing wrong.

But about five hundred feet later (let’s see, maybe five minutes have passed–just kidding, but things were going slow)  another cop pointed and signalled me to pull into the blocked lane lined by orange barrels.

I muttered something under my breath and complied, still wondering what was going on.  Surely, this must be some mistake.

I’d like to type that I wound the window down, but that is rather archaic.  So I powered the window down.

The cop pointed to my son in the back seat and said, “the one in the middle needs to be in a seat belt too.”

OK.  Let’s stop right here.  We always make our kids wear seat belts.  Always.  Just going to the store.  Sitting in the parking lot.  Sometimes when they are not even in the car.  Doesn’t matter.

Always, except for this time.

"Do you believe this guy's excuse?" "No. Book 'em, Danno!"

I’m not sure telling him we always make them wear seat belts helped our case at all, particularly when NONE of my kids in the back seat had their seat belt on as it turned out.

To his credit, the officer never asked for my license or the rental’s registration.  He asked where we were from and whether we were on vacation.  Then, he reminded us that the kids always need to wear their seat belts in Hawaii.  He even stopped the slow-moving traffic to allow us to get back on the highway.

The kids learned a valuable lesson that day.  If you don’t want dad asking if your seat belt is buckled every fifteen minutes of the vacation, then make sure you don’t get pulled over for not wearing it in the first place.

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I’m not really sure I understand the concept of Valentine’s Day.  Maybe the problem is that I just don’t understand women.  I don’t, but there’s not enough blog space to get into that.

Apparently, some dude, maybe Rudy Valentino, became known for making women extremely happy one day out of the year, namely, February 14.  We don’t know exactly how this happened, but like any great myth, what probably started as something simple, like accidentally telling his wife that he loved her, blossomed into some folklore tradition, whereupon men must somehow transmutate into romantic storybook lovers satisfying their woman’s every fantasy and desire for one day.  Then, Hallmark got a hold of it and . . .well, you know the rest.  So now it is one of the great burden’s of modern man (amongst others are mall shopping, being sensitive, scented inserts in magazines, Home Interiors, and La Maz.)

But this year, my wife and I decided to be practical.  With the bad economy, lower medicare reimbursement, my daughter starting college and a second teenager getting a driver’s license, we decided not to exchange gifts.  No.  Really.  After all, flowers just die, we don’t need the extra calories in chocolate although that has nothing to do with our current weight status, and my wife actually doesn’t care much for jewelry–she doesn’t usually wear any.

But then I came across this really neat Penn State vase of blue and white flowers, so I thought I would surprise her anyway.  After all, we are Penn State fans although truth be told, the gift was mostly for me.

Alas, when I got on-line last Friday, thinking I still had plenty of time until Tuesday, I discovered that the earliest delivery date was February 21st.  Surprise!  (Jazz hands.)

So then I heard on the radio that Martin’s (our local supermarket) had chocolate-covered strawberries for Valentine’s Day.  I wanted to pick up a card for her anyway, so off I went.  I generally loathe supermarkets, and today was no exception.  After wandering the aisles aimlessly searching for chocolate-covered strawberries, I finally stopped and asked a guy selling flowers.  Yes, ladies, I was soooo desperate I stopped for directions!

He said:  Um, I think they have strawberries in produce, and there’s chocolate in the candy aisle.

As I sit here typing this now, I even wonder if he worked there.

Seriously?  Do I look like Betty Crocker?  Can you picture me microwaving Hershey Bars and trying to smear the mess on some strawberries?  Okay, maybe you can.   But would you eat them?  I didn’t know there was going to be some assembly required.  Turns out, after inquiring at the bakery, that the store does NOT have chocolate-covered strawberries this year.  Must have been a frost or a chocolate fungus or something catastrophic like that.  I either heard the advertisement wrong, or well, I must have heard the advertisement wrong.  Maybe it was Wal-Mart.  And I am not going there!

I did get her a card.  And I fully intended to buy her some strawberries.  And flowers.  It’s the thought that counts, right?

Yeah.  That’s right up there with those myths like size doesn’t matter and money can’t buy you happiness.

So in the end, as agreed, I gave her nothing for Valentine’s Day.

I wonder if she’ll wear it to bed tonight.

Naw.  She’d probably rather have the strawberries.

But I still wuv her.

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Strife.  Conflict.  Often painful.

If I keep that up I’ll Haiku myself.

My running life has come full circle . . . a circle of strife.

Last summer, I was having toenail problems.  So I had three toenails surgically removed.

The famous "CIRCLE OF LIFE"

They grew back.

I had one permanently removed.  It grew back.  Toenails apparently don’t know the meaning of failure.  Or they fail to understand the concept of permanent.  In any case, I don’t think they’re very bright.  They are farthest away from the brain.  Of course, if you were forced into a smelly shoe for hours everyday, you’d probably not be very bright either.  But I digress.

In the course of all this, I started having trouble with my lower leg.  The toenails no longer bothered me.  But I ended up with a stress fracture of my tibia.

After suffering with that for nearly seven months, it has finally been healed.

In the past week, I have been running six to seven miles a day with no pain in my leg for the first time since last summer.

But now my toe is hurting again.

The circle of strife.

I am the poster child for no pain; no gain.

Sigh.

The less famous "OVAL OF PAIN"

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We’ve all heard the miracle stories.  Mr. X was diagnosed with cancer.  People prayed for him.  Suddenly, the cancer was gone.  There’s not even a shadow on the x-ray.  It’s like it was never there!

For non-believers, there’s always an explanation.  Maybe the original x-ray was wrong.  Maybe that shadow wasn’t a tumor after all but an artifact of some sort.  Nothing miraculous about that and the medical profession is well aware of false positive test results.

But sometimes there was a biopsy which conformed the tumor.  Yet, the tumor is now gone.  What are the odds of two tests being false?

For the believer, it is just an unnecessary affirmation of faith.  They believe whether the cancer goes away or not.  Faith is just that.  There is no need for proof.

Anyway, I submit to you my own faith healing story.

If you are a regular reader of this blog, then you know that I am a runner.  Basically, that means I go outside, I run around for a while, and I end up back where I started for no apparent reason.  That is, I wasn’t running because a bear was chasing me, and I wasn’t running to get a beer.  Both of those scenarios make sense.  I was merely running for my health, which presents quite the oxymoron when you consider all the various aches and pains I suffer for my art.

Last summer, I started having pain in my right leg.  My tibia to be exact.  I eschewed doctors because I was pretty sure their opinion was going to be to tell me to stop running.  After trying to run through the pain, which usually involved limping back home or calling my wife or daughter to come pick me up because I couldn’t make it back, I finally sought medical attention.  An MRI confirmed I had a stress fracture of my tibia.

And guess what the medical experts told me?

STOP RUNNING!

So I did.  Really.  For seven weeks, which is the longest stretch of non-running since 2000 for me, when I committed my body to running to stay in shape and not die as a bloated, out of breath sluggard.

NOT RUNNING WAS MORE PAINFUL THAN THE BONE, truth be told.

A repeat MRI confirmed some healing, but the fracture was still there.  After consulting with enough doctors to finally get a recommendation I could run with, so to speak, an orthopedic surgeon felt there were signs of healing, and blessed me to run 1-2 miles as I could stand, and go from there.  I also used the elliptical because it was low-impact and didn’t stress my leg.

By the end of December, I was running 3 miles three times a week, and mixing 60 minutes on the elliptical on most of the off days.  I didn’t have to limp home or call for a ride, but I could tell the bone didn’t feel right, even though it was my right leg.  Four months, and I still seemed miles away from the runner who used to run 7-12 miles five days a week as if I were some teenager on the track team.  My speed had also fallen quite a bit.

Needless to say, I was frustrated.

Then, while vacation in Hawaii, on the island of Kauai, we met with one of my wife’s high school classmates whom she hadn’t seen in years–maybe since graduation.  They were friends on Facebook and when my daughter updated our status as arriving at the airport in Lihue, my wife’s classmate got in touch with us and arranged an impromptu reunion.

Her husband, as luck turns out, is a born again Christian, but not the get-in-your-face-and-intimidate-you kind.  I’m not even sure if he ever asked us if we were Christians, but he may have known some background from his wife and Facebook.

After an evening of catching up on old times, as we were preparing to part ways for God only knows how long, he asked if he could pray for us and help heal us.  This is what he does.

Now before I go any further, I want to note that I am a Christian and we attend a Presbyterian Church.  I believe in Jesus Christ as my savior.  I don’t pretend to know everything about religion but consider myself open-minded.  I grew up studying science and learning about evolution, but found science to be inadequate to fully explain just what life is and how it came about.  I do pray, and I have prayed for healing in my own leg.  I pray for all my operative patients before and after their surgery.  I believe in the power of prayer, even if it probably doesn’t affect the outcome of a Penn State or Steelers football game.  But I digress.

First, he laid hands on my son and prayed for his neck.  He had injured himself on the trampoline years ago–not serious–but had some nagging neck stiffness and limitation of movement.  After the prayer, he asked my son if he felt any different.  He moved his head around and his eyes got wide.  He did feel different!  But that is not my miracle story.

He also prayed for my daughter who has had shoulder problems since she hurt it lunging a horse, and my wife who has had back problems after two discectomies.  My daughter states she felt some warmth in her shoulder when he prayed, some temporary relief, but as of today, she doesn’t think it is any better.  Ditto for my wife, and I’m not even sure she had the warm sensation.

For me, though, I felt something.  I got goosebumps across my body like I do when the Penn State Blue Band marches onto the field at pre-game.  It was  a tingle throughout my body.  And I did feel like my leg was different.  But I was standing in a restaurant parking lot; not running.  We were just hours away from leaving for home, and I wouldn’t have a chance to run for several days.

But since then, my leg is better.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say it is 100% and it’s not like it never happened, but it is better than it has been since this started last summer.  Some of what I am feeling I think is scar tissue from the healing process and even that is getting better as I run more.  I ran six miles today.  I still ice the leg afterward, which the orthopod recommended, but God can work that way too.  I believe that God works through doctors.  I pray for Him to guide my hands and judgement when I operate and I belive He does.

Two weeks after the healing, I had the orthopod who looked at my scans before recheck me.  He did a fluoroscan–which is NOT an MRI–but the scan did not show any fracture and there was a healed callous of bone.  (An MRI or a bone scan might show residual fracture but he felt neither was necessary if I wasn’t having any pain.  His previous fluoroscan did show the initial fracture back in November.)

That’s my story . . . and I’m sticking to it.  Whether you choose to believe or not . . . is up to you.

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Where were you when you first heard the news of the assassination?  Sipping coffee at work, or curled up on the sofa splitting time between The Ladies’ Home Journal and The View on the TV?  Or, were you in your car, hearing the ghastly report after your favorite song was interrupted on the Classic Rock station.

You haven’t heard about this heinous crime?  You heard it (or rather read it) here first?!

Well, you just know it had to happen sooner or later.  The victim never had a chance.

Bill Murray reports in "Groundhog Day"

It was a cold, blustery day in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, when our hero rose from his bed to cast his annual prediction (“spring will come, sooner or later.”)  Little did he know the fate that awaited his beady little varmint eyes.

After all, he lived in a state with one of the highest ratios of hunters to residents.  NRA members outnumber Mensa members nearly six to one.  (It’s probably much higher than that, but a non-Mensa hunter generated the statistics.)  Phil had made a few enemies over the years, predicting six more weeks of cold weather instead of an early thaw.  This all added up to several million armed, mentally challenged suspects with a motive.  Poor, scurvy little rat.

Authorities now believe that Phil was actually struck down with two separate gunshots.  Instant replays of the massacre distinctly show his little fur-ball head being thrown in two different directions.  Over and back.  Over and back.  Over and back.  The replay is currently being shown on CNN continuously.  Over and back.

Two shots.  Definitely two assassins.

Dead rodents see no shadows.

Ballistic experts (not the weather experts that went ballistic when their best source of meteorological information went down in a pool of blood and shredded silk top hat) have determined that one of the bullets came from a snowy knoll, just south of Gobbler’s Knob.  This was probably the fatal wound.

A second rifle was allegedly fired from the second floor of the adult bookstore across the street.  L. Harvey Osmond was captured fleeing the scene.  Actually, he stopped to check out the new selection of sex toys, and was caught in the act.  Investigators have sealed the crime scene and are working long hours into the night examining evidence at the store.

Osmond’s .22 rifle has been confiscated, and he is currently out on bail.  Ironically, it turns out that he has a valid hunting license and ground hogs are currently in season.  He has been charged with firing a rifle in a public place and his license to kill has been suspended.  (He will retain his muzzle-loader, bow and arrow, and slingshot licenses.)  Members of the Inner Circle have filed charges against Osmond claiming that although Phil was just a rodent-in-season, he was still “one of the guys” and deserved better than that.  They are demanding compensation for pain and suffering, not to exceed fifty million dollars.  Several Inner Circle members have also submitted cleaning bills for the blood spattered on their tuxedos, and the cost of replacing Phil has been estimated at about twenty dollars.

In a quirky twist of fate, Osmond was run-down and killed outside the courthouse by an unknown taxi driver.  Punxsutawney only has one taxi, so authorities are searching tonight for one Jack Diamond, the only taxi driver in the greater downtown area.

Anyone who has information regarding the mysterious assassin on the snowy knoll will be hunted down and meet their maker in a most painful manner.

And in good news, the Third Church of the Most Virgin Lady has announced that the potluck supper for this Saturday will be held after all.  A “meaty” stew has been donated for the cause.

HAPPY GROUNDHOG DAY!

Editor’s Note:  No groundhogs, taxi drivers or adult stores were injured in the writing of this fiction.  This tale has been reprinted from my archives and was originally written by me in 2003.

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