October 31, 2013

Halloween Horror, 70s Style

I don't have a good Halloween story to tell, or at least a recent one. So I'll have to take you back a decade or two. Or three. I'm not certain of the exact year, but it was probably in the late 70s when I was around eight years old.

My brother and I were in my room one night playing in the dark with a tiny, plastic glow-in-the-dark skeleton. The thing was probably only about two inches long, and the glowiness didn't last very long. So we constantly had to turn on a light to "re-charge" the skeleton. Then we'd turn out the light, and one of us would throw the skeleton across the room. At that point it was an all out, fight-to-the-death, mad dash-style scramble to see who could get the skeleton first.

When my brother threw the skeleton onto my bed, I thought it would be a heroic opportunity to valiantly jump halfway across the room onto the bed to get to it first. Tragically, I misjudged the distance in the dark and came up short.

Instead of coming in for a soft landing on the bed, my head hit a metal bracket that was supporting the box spring, resulting in a gash on my forehead above my right eyebrow. I grabbed my forehead with my hand and ran across the house screaming bloody murder. Well, it was bloody.

Now, the humorous interlude to this story. My parents were in the kitchen, and so I ran up to them with my hands out. The first thing my dad saw was my hand covered in blood since I had touched my forehead immediately after impact.

My dad's instincts as a parent (and doctor!) kicked in, so he grabbed my bloody hand and shoved it into the sink under the running water to get a better look at the injury. It wasn't exactly funny at the time. But now I can look back and laugh that the wrong (and uninjured) body part was being tended to first.

If I didn't have parents who were well-connected in the medical industry, this surely would have resulted in a dreaded late-evening trip to the emergency room. But instead, my dad called a doctor friend of his who agreed to meet us in his office after hours and stitch me up.

To this day I still have a scar above my right eyebrow. It doesn't come out very clearly in a picture, hence the arrow:


If you saw me in person you wouldn't even notice the scar unless you knew to look for it. But if anyone asks about it, I can offer a multiple choice quiz:

I got the scar over my eye:

A) In Desert Storm
B) While working on the mean streets of Detroit
C) While playing college intramural softball
D) While playing with a glow-in-the-dark skeleton
E) None of the above

October 25, 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday - Vol. 44


--- 1 ---
This is a public service announcement: If you fill your child's leak-proof thermos with soup but forget to put in the o-ring that makes the Thermos leak proof, this is what your back seat will look like after you drive your kid to school:



On the bright side, my car had the lovely smell of chicken broth for the rest of the day.

--- 2 ---
Picture day at school has come a long way since I was a kid. My daughter's elementary school has a team of photographers onsite today to take the official pictures. When it's time to order the photos, we have a choice of about a zillion fake backgrounds. When I was in elementary/middle school, our school had its own photographer who would just take everyone's picture standing in front of a boring stairway. He was in his 80s, bald, wore funny glasses and drove a Yugo. Really.

(Photo courtesy: Wikipedia)

--- 3 ---
There's big money in the sack. There seems to be an explosion of mattress stores opening up in my community. We have two Mattress Firm stores that are only 1.6 miles away, according to Google Maps. And halfway in between them is a Sleep Experts mattress store (and probably two or three Starbucks locations). We visited two out of the three mattress stores last weekend while shopping for a new guest bed. The Sleep Experts ended up getting our business.

--- 4 ---
I have no financial interest in this year's World Series. But I would if the Red Sox were playing the Braves instead of the Cardinals. My college roommate back in the early 90s was from Boston and a lifelong Sox fan. And of course I've always been a Braves fan. So at the time we bet $50 on the next time the Red Sox and Braves meet in the World Series. It hasn't happened yet. Maybe we need to raise our bet to account for inflation.

--- 5 ---
I think Major League Baseball needs to re-think its marketing strategy. This ad popped up during a game of Words with Friends. Would someone please explain to me who would select Dan Uggla for their "dream team?" He was the Braves' highest-paid player in 2013 and statistically the worst hitter in the league.



--- 6 ---
I don't care much for college football rivalries. Of course the big one around here is between the Texas Longhorns and the Texas A&M Aggies. We had to pick a side in order to contribute to an upcoming silent auction at my daughter's school. Her class is supposed to donate an A&M gift basket to the auction. So we bought this lovely overpriced Aggie football.




--- 7 ---
Quick joke from our priest's homily last Sunday: A deeply-religious woman sat on her front porch every morning and prayed out loud asking God for help since she could barely afford to feed her family. Her neighbor was an atheist and always tried to convince her that God does not exist. One day he decided to prove it, so he bought three bags of groceries and secretly placed them on the woman's porch in the middle of the night. When she found them in the morning, she loudly thanked God for answering her prayers. The man walked up and said, "I told you there is no God. I bought those groceries." So the woman prayed again and said, "And thanks for getting the devil to pay for the groceries!"

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October 21, 2013

Oh My Aching Ankle

I really should consider myself lucky. I've never broken a bone, never had a serious illness (unless you count having a bad case of chicken pox as an adult or the Great Valentine's Day Stomach Virus of 2010) and I've only been an emergency room patient once as far as I can remember.

But that injury that led me to the E.R. back in 1990 still haunts me today. Here's how it went down: I was heroically playing in an intramural softball game in college on a team called Irreverence (don't ask). In the right-handed batter's box there were a couple of holes from people digging in while at the plate.

I don't actually remember whether I was hitting and on my way out of the batter's box at the time or perhaps trying to score. Or maybe it was a defensive play. But at that moment I was running across the batter's box and badly sprained my ankle in one of the holes. 

Once the laughter died down (hey, I would have laughed at me too) and people realized I was actually hurt, one of my friends helped me hobble across the street to the college's infirmary. There was a running joke at the time that the only people who worked in this infirmary were retired nurses nearing the age of 100. And no matter the malady, the only thing they would do was give you Motrin.

So in we went; I told the kind, elderly nurse what happened. She looked at the giant ball of swelling that used to be my ankle, gave me some Motrin (of course), an ice pack, a pair of crutches and said I needed to get the ankle x-rayed because it could be broken. Lovely. 

I didn't have a car at the time, and neither did my buddy who'd helped me get to the infirmary. But the college had vouchers for a cab company, so Nurse Methuselah called me a cab and told me to go to the E.R. for an x-ray.

My buddy didn't want to come to the hospital (knowing it would probably take hours), but he waited with me until the cab came and helped stuff me into the back seat. He slammed the door and said to the cab driver, "Lakeland Regional Hospital, and step on it!" The cabbie was not amused, but I thought that was the funniest thing anyone said to a cab driver other than when the Fresh Prince said, "Yo, homes, to Bel Air!"

The cab dumped me off outside the hospital and I crutched myself into the E.R. Nowadays emergency rooms have online advance check-in to reduce the wait time. But not back in 1990. So after I checked in I had to wait until they took care of all the gunshot wounds, stabbings, impalings, poisonings, near-drownings and other serious injuries. Who knows, Massive Headwound Harry may have been in the waiting room ahead of me too.

By the time they called my name I figured my ankle had already healed. No such luck. It wasn't broken but it was pretty badly sprained, so the E.R. doctor referred me to a orthopedic doctor/foot expert to see as soon as I could get an appointment.

Dr. Scholl told me to stay off the bad ankle for a few more days. That didn't last long, however, because I was so sick  of the crutches that I ditched them the next day. The doctor also gave me a really stylish air cast. I did an exhaustive internet image search to try to find a picture of the type of air cast I had. Maybe technology has improved since back then because I didn't find anything like it. Here's something similar, except mine strapped all the way up to my calf:



He also gave me some fancy ankle exercises to do to help strengthen it. I recall having to "write" the alphabet with my foot over and over. What fun. Maybe I should have played the piano with my feet too.

I'm pretty sure I followed most of the doctor's instructions reasonably well. But my ankle has never been quite the same ever since then. I've never re-sprained it to the extent of the original injury. However, it has always looked a little bit larger than my other ankle (permanent swelling?). And every couple of years or so I aggravate it and it aches for a few weeks. It happened again the other day.

Does anybody have any Motrin?

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October 18, 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday - Vol. 43


--- 1 ---
Just as I was grumbling that the spelling words in my daughter's second grade class are easier than last year's words, the teacher threw us a curve. One of last week's bonus spelling words was narwhal. Of course, everyone (except for me) knows that a narwhal is is a medium-sized toothed whale that lives year-round in the Arctic. Is this a word that comes up regularly in conversations among second graders?

(Photo/Definition Courtesy: Wikipedia)
 
--- 2 ---
Long gone are the days when my daughter gets rainbows, stars, stickers, unicorns and smiley faces for good work. She just received her first report card in second grade, and now she actually gets real grades (numbers, not letters). I don't remember the grading system when I was in second grade, but I do remember learning cursive that year. I guess that doesn't happen anymore.

--- 3 ---
Quick! I need help with the last line in my daughter's math homework. You're supposed to figure out the pattern and fill in the missing numbers. The line above it is an easy one. But I'm stumped on the last one. Is this really second grade math? (Yesterday the teacher conceded that this question was a little too hard.)




 
--- 4 ---
Either I'm getting older or the qualifications for the position of phlebotomist are getting easier. I got a flu shot yesterday. The 12-year-old boy who administered the shot did a good job.

--- 5 ---
I was really looking forward to buying an Atlanta Braves 2013 World Series Champion t-shirt this year. But alas, I had to settle for a National League East Division Champion shirt instead. It was a little disappointing when it arrived in the mail this week. It's just not the same.


--- 6 ---
I think it would be a little intimidating to play against the Vatican. I read that the Vatican is raising the importance of sports by fielding its own cricket team. I wonder if the team will get a little help from above. It reminds me of when Bill Swerski's Superfans (on SNL) did football predictions in the 90s and wondered who would win if the Chicago Bears played against God. As I recall, they said God would win but the score would be close!

--- 7 ---
You can learn some customer service skills from The Three Stooges. (Notice that I didn't say good customer service skills.) This gem came from The Three Stooges Facebook page from the episode Playing the Ponies when they were working in a restaurant:

Customer: What is this, pork or veal? 
Moe: Whadya’ order? 
Customer: Veal. 
Moe: Then it’s veal!

(Photo courtesy: vimeo.com)

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October 14, 2013

Remember the 80s (in the men's room)

I had an 80s flashback in the bathroom at church the other day. The day chapel at my parish is an old building with some very bare-bones restrooms. In fact, the small men's room also doubles as a storage closet for cleaning supplies.

I rarely visit this particular men's room; but the other day nature called, so in I went. Somehow I never paid attention to this before, but there was a vacuum in the corner of the bathroom. That was odd enough since there's no carpeting in the chapel. But what really struck me was the name and age of this particular model. Take a look:


It's a Hoover Decade 80. I don't usually take pictures in the can, but it was too good to pass up. This thing was probably state-of-the-art technology during the Carter administration. (I'm guessing it was introduced before the 80s to make it sound cool and futuristic.)

Not being one to miss the opportunity for a good joke, I tweeted a picture of the Hoover Decade 80 and said it was time to donate it to the Smithsonian. Little did I know that this vacuum is somewhat of a hot property, apparently. An astute Twitter follower tweeted back with a link to a video posted by a vacuum collector. Check it out if you want to see the ol' Hoover Decade 80 in action with some interesting play-by-play narrative:


In the video, the collector proudly said, "I've always wanted a Hoover Decade 80." If he wants another one, perhaps my church can make a deal!

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October 11, 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday - Vol. 42


--- 1 ---
I really missed the boat on this one. I was very impressed the other day when I saw this web banner promoting the New American Bible, Revised Edition:


"Love your NABRE." Is that new marketing campaign by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) brilliant or what? Brilliant, yes. New, no. Upon further review, I discovered that this theme was from 2011. Oops. I need to pay closer attention. 

--- 2 ---
For my penance, I will take the time to check the web before going to confession. I have a mini sequel to my Confession, Interrupted incident back in January. When I ducked out of work at lunchtime on Monday and arrived at the cathedral in our diocese, I was greeted at the door by a sign that said there would be no confession Monday - Wednesday since the priests were out. Just my luck.

--- 3 ---
I'm not the world's greatest sleeper. And my deficiencies in the ZZZZZZZZ department made me miss an entire Braves playoff baseball game on Monday. A couple of hours after going to bed Sunday night, I woke up at 12:42 a.m. and couldn't fall back to sleep. Arrgh! So after staying up all night and then having a busy day at work, I was wiped out by the time the game started at 8:37 p.m. local time. If it's any conciliation, I didn't have to watch the Braves get eliminated from the postseason that night.

 
--- 4 ---
One perk of being a lifelong Braves fan is that I've become desensitized to postseason disappointment. Life continued on Tuesday, and I wasn't too disappointed.  It's nothing like when the Braves lost the most exciting World Series in history in 1991. I still remember being in shock even the next morning while standing in the shower.

--- 5 ---
I am displaying my college pride, thanks to my daughter's elementary school. A few weeks ago the school had "team shirt day" and encouraged kids to wear college team shirts. Around here it was no surprise to mostly see University of Texas and Texas A&M garb. But our kid has no college apparel, so we sent her to second grade in her pink Atlanta Braves jersey. But then last week I realized that after all these years, I have nothing from my college. So I added this to my wardrobe:


--- 6 ---
Don't let the shirt fool you. I didn't play baseball in college. The last time I actually played organized baseball was about 24-years ago in high school. Of course, by "play" I mean just putting on a uniform and sitting on the bench most of the time. And it wasn't exactly the varsity team either.

--- 7 ---
I wish I had seen this myself so I could have taken a picture. My wife and daughter were admiring some of the other students' work posted on the walls at the elementary school. One kid was supposed to write about something that bugged him. So he said, "I don't like ducks because they quack all the time."

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October 4, 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday - Vol. 41


--- 1 ---
Well I can't say that I never win anything. Before our parish's big annual fall festival on Saturday, I told my wife that if we win the raffle for the new Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck, we should sell it and split the money with the church. I'll spare you the phony suspense. We didn't win the truck. But I entered one of the hourly 50/50 cash raffles and took home $115! The other half went to the church. So I was a little prophetic, wasn't I?

--- 2 ---
It's amazing our parish was able to even have the event after the heavy winds and six inches of rain the night before. It rains so little around here that it seemed like we got half a year's rain all in one night.

--- 3 ---
One of the smartest decisions in the history of the world was allowing Texas to move National Night Out (NNO) festivities from August to October. Who wants to hang out in the street and get to know their neighbors when its 105 degrees outside? It was only in the 90s on Tuesday night, and our street's NNO party was conveniently located right outside thanks to our across-the-street neighbors. The concept of NNO doesn't exactly cater to introverts. But we had a good time.

--- 4 ---
As much as I love the Atlanta Braves and baseball in general (hence the little baseball in the blog logo), I hardly ever actually write about it. But now its playoff time! Enough said.



--- 5 ---
The Chobani Greek yogurt people have redeemed themselves. Although I ought to wait until we try the replacement products before saying so. My 7-year-old daughter was the unfortunate one who took a bite of the fizzy, moldy yogurt that was eventually recalled. The company just sent us a stack of coupons for a bunch of free yogurt to make up for the inconvenience/poisoning. UPDATE: Nevermind on the redemption. My wife used one of the coupons to buy a replacement pack of yogurt, and one of them was already open and leaking. Yuck.

--- 6 ---
Check out this letter that my daughter (who's in second grade) received from our bank:

"Thank you for trusting us to help you with banking needs. Beginning Oct. 19, 2013 we are changing our wire transfer fees. All outgoing international wire transfers will be sent through the Bank of New York Mellon and a new International Wire Service Fee of $25 will be charged. We are also lowering our Wire Transfer Fee from $35 to $20. The total fee for international wire transfers will now be $45. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. We value your business and the opportunity to serve you."
Wow. That's a lot for a 7-year-old to handle, but she's coping with it!

--- 7 ---
Sometimes the most sought-after Christmas toys quickly wind up in the back of the toy closet. But I have found an innovative new use for the Elmo Live that our daughter got for Christmas in 2008. Somehow he wound up on the top of my dresser, and his outstretched arms are a perfect place to hang socks that are missing their match. Batteries are not necessary.

Put a sock in it, Elmo!


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