May 2007 Archives

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May 30, 2007
Home, Weird Home

A news clipping from my hometown newspaper from a few months ago:

Scooter hits 2 vehicles
3 drivers get citations

Right away we know we have a winner of an article, here.

Santa Barbara - A 27-year-old Santa Barbara man riding on a homemade scooter — a lawnmower engine attached to a skateboard deck — hit two vehicles Tuesday afternoon at rush hour after his brakes failed.

Homemade scooter... in traffic... at rush hour. Bong hits required: seven, minimum.

The man was approaching the intersection of Old Coast Road and Hot Springs Road

One of the busiest intersections in town, I might mention. A nearly perfect place to audition for the next "Faces of Death" video.

and "clipped" one vehicle in the rear while "slaloming" between cars in an attempt to slow down, said Santa Barbara police Lt. Paul McCaffrey. He then rear-ended a stopped vehicle and was ejected from the seat of his unlicensed, unregistered scooter, which flew backward and struck the vehicle behind.

Inspector Clouseau could hardly have done better. But here's the punchline:

The operator of the scooter possessed a suspended license, the driver of the rear vehicle was unlicensed, and the driver of the front vehicle possessed an expired licence — all received citations. The drivers of the vehicles were uninjured, and the scooter operator was taken to Cottage Hospital for minor injuries. [emphasis mine - R.]

The traffic trifecta!

Based on the content of the article, and knowing my hometown as I do, I would bet money that:

  1. the scooter driver (suspended license) would fall into the category of "burnt-out druggie surfer,"
  2. the rear vehicle driver (no license) was an illegal alien, and
  3. the front vehicle driver (expired licence) was a citizen of extremely advanced years.

All three categories of which, I might add, Santa Barbara has in abundance.

There's no place like home, indeed.

Posted by Russ at 07:56 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
May 28, 2007

See the bottom photo here?

Double it. That's what I pulled out of the smoker today.

And, daaaaayum, it is good... even if I do say so myself. I have absolutely mastered pork.

Now I have to work on my brisket skills.

Posted by Russ at 10:57 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
May 27, 2007

This being a holiday weekend, as well as the weekend that most closely approximates my birthday, and following on the (relatively) good medical news I had last week, there seems to be only one appropriate way to spend the day tomorrow: cooking barbecue.

Of course.

The meat — two large Boston butts — has been in brine all day, getting all yummied-up.

I'll be lighting the fire shortly after I get off work, sometime around 1am, I think. (Yes, I'm back at work after my brief hospital stay — more on that later.)

This time, I wised up and loaded the coals into the smoker before it got dark.

The tetanus-inducing coffee can you see in the center has a purpose; by letting the coals burn from the center out, the fire will stay low and last a long long time without replenishment. All I'll have to do is get the initial batch of coals lit in my chimney starter, then pour them in, and remove the coffee can.

I also pre-mixed smoking wood with the coals.

While the temperature in the smoker comes up to the desired range (I'm shooting for 225°) I'll prepare the butts with a good dry rub. My rub isn't secret... mainly because it's not an exacting recipe. It's really pretty generic, but it gives me results I like, and that's all that matters.

Once the cooker temperature stabilizes, I'll put the pork in the smoker, go to bed, and let the magic happen.

Update, 2:30am: It's on.

Posted by Russ at 10:14 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
May 24, 2007
Apropos of Nothing

Today is my 45th birthday.

Ha! That that, you verkakte actuarial tables!

Posted by Russ at 07:29 AM | Comments (11) | TrackBack (0)
May 23, 2007
It Lives

I didn't have the opportunity to train my sister how to post here during my absence, but I hope to rectify that for future occasions. Did I miss anything while I was away?

OK, here's the deal.

The word from the neurologist, short version: idiopathic hydrocephalus.

This is far far better news than I could possibly have imagined. Not that it isn't serious — left untreated, it is. But it is also very fixable.

I was admitted to the hospital Monday, went through a couple days of testing, and am now at home. There is more testing and, ultimately, brain surgery in my future, but not immediately.

I know a lot of people have kept me in their thoughts and prayers. If you've been a loner all your adult life, as I have, it's a hard idea to get used to.

All I can say now is thanks, I'm humbled beyond words.

More later.

Posted by Russ at 11:17 PM | Comments (13) | TrackBack (0)
May 18, 2007
Oh, This is Gonna Suck

I heard from my neurologist's office a few minutes ago. They finally got the report of my most recent MRI from the radiologist. Unknown, as yet, is why it took almost two weeks for the report to appear.

My neurologist was actually not in his office today, but was attending at the hospital, so he hasn't actually seen the report. Hence, no diagnosis today. The report, however, is front and center on the doc's desk, so he'll see it first thing Monday.

While speaking with the doctor's assistant, I mentioned my current state and the progress, if you will, of the decline. This might not have been the prudent thing for me to do; she spoke to the doctor, and then called me back. First thing Monday, I'm to go for an office appointment, after which the neurologist will likely have me admitted to the hospital, duration unknown.

This is not what I was hoping for.

They want me in the hospital for two main reasons. First, safety. In the hospital, I'll not be as likely to fall and hurt myself. Now, I've done lots of falling, and have so far managed to avoid serious injury. So far. But a fractured wrist could happen at any time. In my current condition, as reliant on my arms as I am, this would effectively end my roaming around the house.

Second, being in the hospital will give me more immediate access to additional testing, and to a neurosurgeon. I don't yet know that I actually need either a neurosurgeon or more tests, but if I do, speed would be good.

Still, this is going to suck.

Adding to the suck: my sister and niece are coming to town tomorrow, to help out around the place for a while. "Nice to see you. Now, could you drive me to the hospital?" This was not how I was hoping to greet them.

On the other hand, since I'll be offline, perhaps I can train my sister to post updates for me while I'm away, however brief or long that might be.

Well, this is a real turn-up for the plus-fours, as they used to say.

Posted by Russ at 05:50 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack (0)
Friday Thoughts

I haven't been out to see a movie in months, not since last August. I can't really go now, until my condition improves, which is a shame — there appear to be a number of big-screen-viewing-worthy flicks this year.

I've never been a fan of the franchise, but check this out. Awesome, indeed.

Jerry Falwell died, and his detractors on the Left went insane with glee. Had the situation been reversed, I don't think we'd have seen anything like glee from Rev. Falwell. Regret would seem more likely.

And that's the problem with the Left. (Well, one of the problems....) They cannot or will not make the distinction present in the motto "hate the sin, love the sinner."

To those on the Left, hate is to be directed at their opponents personally, rather than to their opponents' positions or behavior. And then they have the audacity to call those of us on the Right "mean-spirited" and "hate-filled."

Amnesty? No thanks. I'm with Bob at Confederate Yankee... though I'll hold my re-registration until after any voting.

Posted by Russ at 04:56 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
May 14, 2007

I'm tired. Tired of waiting, that is. The news, when it comes, isn't going to be good, but that's neither here nor there. I just want to know, so we can get started on a treatment.

I had my third MRI a week ago, and it is, per the latest report from my neurologist, still in the hands of the radiologist. My neurologist hasn't even received it yet.

Henceforth, I hereby call "BS" on any TV medical show in which the heroic doctors get MRI results during the same episode in which the MRI is ordered.

Doctors watching the MRI images resolving on their screens in realtime will duly be noted with peals of laughter.

Sorry, House.

In the meantime, my condition is slowly worsening. My legs, for instance, are getting progressively weaker. I tire easily; I have to budget my trips around the house and up and down the stairs. Hauling a load of laundry up the stairs is almost more than I can manage... almost. I'll keep schlepping along.

I wonder how hard it would be to get a dumbwaiter installed? (Apparently we can still call them "dumbwaiters" instead of "verbally-challenged waitrons.") Having one would be rather handy... and would be rather cool, in a "retro" sort of way.

I can still control my feet, but that control also is declining. Safety is about to become an issue now, so today I made what I believe will be my last self-driven trip to the grocery store. Fortunately, they deliver.

Note the "Health" category under which this post is filed; my previous posts have been put there, as well. If you're new here and have no idea what I'm talking about, the posts are in reverse chronological order.

Posted by Russ at 10:19 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
May 11, 2007
These Are A Few Of Her Favorite Things

When Mycah wants deep sleep, she retreats to the cabinet in my guest bathroom, or to my bed, or to a convenient pile of laundry.

When she wants to hang out, she is almost always laying within arm's reach on the floor next to my Command Chair here at Geek Central.

Frequently, however, her favorite toy mousie beckons, conveniently close to her scratchables.

[If the image is too big for your screen, get a bigger monitor. It's 2007, fer cryin' out loud - 800x600 is so 1995.]

Her life is very tough.

Be sure to check out the Modulator's Friday Ark.

And of course one must not overlook the Carnival of the Cats, to be hosted this Sunday at... uh... well, we'll see.

Posted by Russ at 06:26 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
May 09, 2007

With the prospect of getting a diagnosis this week — assuming the MRI actually shows something — I've determined that there are some words I really do not want to hear from the doctor:

"Amyotrophic." That'd just plain suck.

"Inoperable." No offense, Ian.

"Hatch." I consider this to be the least likely, despite a complete lack of evidence.

At this point, though, I'd just like to hear anything concrete. Once we know what's going on, at least it will be treatable, to one degree or another. I've had it with the steroids; not knowing is making me crazy.

The saga so far:
3/17 — The State of the Russ
3/19 — MRI Complete
3/20 — No Results Yet
3/22 — Anticipation
3/24 — Still No News
3/27 — I Got Nothin'
3/30 — First MRI Results: Diagnosis Delayed
4/03 — Ouch
4/17 — Second MRI
4/21 — Second MRI Results, Sort Of
5/02 — Gratitude
5/07 — Mmmm... Brains....

Posted by Russ at 06:34 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
May 07, 2007
Mmmm... Brains....

I've just arrived home from what may be the last "long" drive I take for a while — I had my third MRI today.

Compared with the previous two MRIs, this one was a good deal more difficult. Despite being of significantly shorter duration — approximately half an hour in the machine, rather than the 45 or more minutes for the earlier instances — this episode was complicated due to it being my brain they were looking at.

On the MRI machine's sliding table was a cradle in which I rested the back of my head. OK, that's not so bad, I thought. Then as I lay there, they clamped down the restraint for the front of my head. I don't know how best to describe it, but have you ever seen The Man in the Iron Mask?

Now, it wasn't a full-contact restraint. Indeed, there was almost no contact... but I could feel my whiskers and the tip of my nose touching it. I'm not claustrophobic, but this was a very near-run thing. I closed my eyes, focused on my breathing and listened to the radio as well as I could over the noise of the machinery. It helped.

Halfway through, they stopped the imaging, told me to keep holding still, and slid me out of the imager. This was to be a "high contrast" MRI, so they had to inject gadolinium into my bloodstream. It only took them five tries to find a vein. Mister Pincushion, I. They then slid me back into the machine and completed the scan.

The results? I don't know yet; it will be a few days at least. We can, however, pretty much rule out a vertebral disk problem. That leaves a tumor or MS as the most likely diagnoses. I don't know which one to root for.

On the plus side, this MRI will provide proof positive, for all you doubting Thomases, that I am indeed possessed of a brain.

Here, BTW, is what I suspect the MRI will show:

The saga so far:
3/17 — The State of the Russ
3/19 — MRI Complete
3/20 — No Results Yet
3/22 — Anticipation
3/24 — Still No News
3/27 — I Got Nothin'
3/30 — First MRI Results: Diagnosis Delayed
4/03 — Ouch
4/17 — Second MRI
4/21 — Second MRI Results, Sort Of
5/02 — Gratitude

I really need to set up a separate category for this stuff.

Posted by Russ at 07:55 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
May 05, 2007
Proper Holiday Merrymaking

Jack M., guest-posting at Ace of Spades, presents his list of ways one can celebrate the Fifth-o of May-o.

8) Finally, I wrap up the day's fun by going to the most ritzy French restaurant in town and saying "You lost to...Mexico. Mexico." Then I just laugh and laugh and laugh.

Sounds like a great deal of fun to me.

Posted by Russ at 04:10 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
May 02, 2007

As my physical condition has declined over the past months, most routine and mundane tasks have become increasingly difficult, or take longer to accomplish, or both. This is not altogether surprising.

One of the chores that has become most difficult for me to accomplish is wheeling the trash bin out to the curb the evening before the collectors come through. Fortunately, I don't generate enough trash to warrant taking the bin to the curb every week, but when I do have to do it, it's a challenge comparable to climbing K2 — as the photo here shows, my driveway is rather steep.

Before being afflicted with whatever it is that is crippling me, getting the trash out for collection was a one-minute job; now it takes me a full 15 minutes to get the can down and get myself back up the driveway... and I'm completely exhausted when it's done. Getting the empty receptacle back up the driveway the next day is equally challenging.

Further, maneuvering a fully-laden can down the driveway is downright hazardous for me; the only fall I've had in public was while doing so a few weeks ago. Fortunately, I "broke right" and the lawn cushioned that particular landing. The neighbors across the street were gracious enough to lend a hand.

This week, I had a full can to take down to the curb, so I picked up one last thing to take out with me (I never go anywhere around the house without thinking "what do I need to take from here to there?" so as to avoid additional trips) and headed out the front door... and saw that my bin had already been taken to the curb.

Someone had taken my trash down the driveway for me. One of my neighbors, unasked, had done for me one of the biggest favors for which I could possibly have asked. Not that I would ask.. I'm stubborn that way.

I don't know who did it — I saw and heard nothing — but I am very grateful to whoever it was.

I love living in this neighborhood. I love it that neighbors look out for one another.

I think it's time I made a neighborhood-sized batch of barbecue to share with all these fine folks. Good thing the cooking won't take a lot of walking around.

Posted by Russ at 03:35 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)