Jul 4 2012

Independence Day

After driving around in my wife’s Jeep this morning on my day off I had time to think, and had something really eloquent to say, but unfortunately I didn’t write it while I had it and now it is gone. I’ll just sum it up this way: I love living in America, even with all its flaws.

Anyway, I was going to display the text of the Declaration, but there’s no point as you can see a really nice version here.

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Dec 13 2011

Worst. Vacation. Ever. pt. 2

Part 1 is here.

At St. Mary’s they put me on a different medicine, but my heart still wasn’t acting right, and they said they were going to have to put me under and hit me with the defibrillator to reset my heartbeat. CLEAR!

Since they had to put me under, that meant no food. It also meant no coffee. It was about lunch time now and I hadn’t had either all day. My vacation was ruined, I was starving, and I had a massive caffeine headache. I started to develop a bad attitude. On top of that the nurses came in periodically to stab me or rip some more of my arm hair or chest hair out.

Ba-bm, bum, …., BBBBM!

Later in the afternoon I had some visitors: The Bob and Bruce. Bruce had to be hospitalized for months due to a kidney tumor, a faulty heart valve, and a complication from surgery from which he literally almost died. Bob had had a heart transplant just four years before.

“Do you know how you know you have a lying heart?” The Bob asked seriously.

“Um, it’s in the Bible?” I couldn’t think of the verse. Jeremiah, maybe?

“No–it’s A-FIBBER!

Bruce and The Bob exploded with laughter. Not only was I spending my vacation in the hospital and being starved and coffee-deprived and depilated–but now I had to endure puns.

“You know,” The Bob said, “You really do have a lot to be thankful for; this could have been so much worse.”

“Yep,” I said flatly. I was trying to ignore the very audible rhythmic clockwork tick of Bruce’s mechanical heart valve.

“That sounds like mental assent instead of heart acceptance.”

“Yep,” I said again. I was in a bad mood and I didn’t want someone ruining it by counting my many blessings. And don’t get me started on Bruce. Sure, we had a lot of laughs when I visited him in the hospital, but this was entirely different.

A couple hours later the medicine finally worked its magic, and my heart started beating normally. I was finally allowed some food, but no coffee.

That night was the first–and only night so far–that I have spent in the hospital as a patient. I was awakened in the middle of the night by my roommate’s bladder, and the small circus that resulted as nurses and care assistants piled in to deal with the situation. Apparently the collective noun for nurses is a clown car.

An hour later I was awakened again so another nurse could stab me in the belly with a needle.

A couple hours later, more bladdericious fun.

The next day I had more tests–and finally–some flippin’ coffee.

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Dec 10 2011

Worst. Vacation. Ever. pt. 1

“I hope you have a horrible vacation.”

Those were the last words my boss said to me two years ago before I went on what is now known as The Worst. Vacation. Ever. I posted a tiny summary of this here right after it happened. He was kidding (I think).

Now, two years later, I am finally over the bitterness so that I can tell the full story.

I spent the first day of my vacation trying to unclog the sewer and taking one of the kids to the doctor–during which the sewer backed up more than ever. After wasting my entire morning in an attempt to keep from spending my vacation fun money on a plumber, I still ended up calling the plumber. After another hour and a half he pulled some fist-sized rocks out. They appear to have been dumped down the drain by a small and terrible child.

I thought my chances at camping and floating were shot, but Heather said we still had some money, so the next day I went shopping for supplies. Sunday night I packed the car and made arrangements to pick up my brother Nube. I went to bed feeling great.

I woke up at 5 in the morning not feeling great. My heart was beating like a middle school drummer. Ba-bum. Baaaa-bm. Ba-BUM! Bbbbbbm! Besides that, it felt like my second-hand cat, Her Fat Highness (Fatty for short) was sitting on my chest.

I gave it a few minutes and then woke up Heather. Then I called the nurse hotline, who told me to go to the ER. I gave it another few minutes. Ba-ba-bum! Bum!

Heather loaded me in the car and we headed to the hospital. On the way there I prayed, and was totally at peace with what God wanted for me, whether he healed me or whether I died (though I preferred the former to the latter). Only later would I realize that God was not limited by my two polar options.

At the hospital they checked me in quickly, there not being a lot of business at 5:30 Monday morning. They ran me through the usual battery of needles and very personal questions.

They diagnosed me within maybe a half an hour–I had atrial fibrillation, also known as A-fib. A-fib is when the bottom chambers of the heart are like, “steady as she goes, easy does it,” and the top chambers are like, “LETSDOSPEEDANDSTAYUPALLNIGHTRACINGCARSANDGOINGWHEEEEEEEE!” They tried the most common medication to correct it, but it didn’t help. They didn’t have a cardiologist on staff so they were going to to have to send me to another hospital, so where did I want to go? I told them to send me to St. Mary’s since it was the closest.

They called me an ambulance, which was nice because I hadn’t gotten to ride in an ambulance since my anxiety attack four years before. The doors opened and these two kids got out. They wheeled me out on the gurney, shirtless into the cool November Missouri air. I was cold to be sure, but it’s hard to be mad at a couple of people who are still trying to go through puberty.

At St. Mary’s they put me in a room with some old man who, I would sadly find out, had the world’s most active bladder.

“Did they drive you or did you drive them?” the nurse asked me when she saw the paramedics.

“They asked me to buy ’em beer,” I replied. I don’t know where I summoned the humor.


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Nov 30 2011

MadMan Dan’s Amazing Christmas List 2011

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, time for children and snowmen and reindeer and presents. I believe some of the locals also observe some sort of minor commemoration, something about the birth of someone who would pay for the sins of mankind or something; as a Sunday School teacher I am a pretty busy guy, and I don’t really have time to research all the particulars.

Anyway, it’s also time for for the fourth annual MadMan Dan’s Amazing Christmas List. As I have aged a whole ‘nother year and probably
matured some, slowly making the inevitable transformation from the annoying and peurile Peter Pan to the suave and emotionally complex
Captain Hook (forsooth, mine adjectives have betrayed me! The process must be nearly complete!).

Being, therefore, Officially Old, I will say, “You don’t have to get me anything.”

But, you will no doubt counter, “How will I ensure that you remember me the whole year through?”

And that’s where you have me; in the past year I have recognized that I have several items that remind me of people and events. My green wool ivy cap reminds me of Heather and how we celebrated our anniversary on St. Patrick’s day. My blackthorn walking stick, our vacation in October of last year. And so it makes increasing (though sad) sense why no-one buys me a side of lamb–I would only be reminded of him or her while the Irish Stew lasted–and then they would be forgotten.

MadMan Dan’s Amazing Christmas List 2011

What I really want is a time machine, so I can go back in time and spend more time with my girls. Why, you ask, don’t you just spend more time with them now? Because I’m too busy. At any rate, I have realized how fleeting their time with us is, and I want to hold onto that time while I have it. Which leads us to my first wish on my wishy wish list:

A Camera. Heather and I have already decided what we are getting each other: part of a camera. Our current camera, a Kodak, has been a faithful soldier for several years now; it even survived being left out in the rain for two days a couple years ago. But alas, the camera’s battery has faded, and it is financially inadvisable to pursue maintaining it. Soooo…if you like, you can contribute. If that seems too impersonal or boring….

CD–Dreams of Flight. The year is 1989–I’ll graduate in less than a year. I’m in Best Buy, looking for music in the discount bargain bin, because, sadly, I was poor. In the bin was a cassette (look it up, kids) with a penguin on the cover for only 89 cents. How can you not risk a buck on something with a penguin on it? As I would later find out, it was an album put out by Nashville studio acoustic bass player Edgar Meyer. It turned out to be amazing. What’s the biggy, MadMan? Why don’t you just go buy it for yourself on iTunes? Or even go buy yourself a shiny new CD? Because–Edgar switch record labels, and it’s out of print. If you can find a copy of this CD used somewhere, that would be a grand gift indeed.

DVD–Paradise Lagoon (aka The Admirable Crichton). This 1957 movie starring Kenneth More was one of my favorite movies growing up. I must have watched it a dozen times. The story was written by J.M. Barrie, the guy who wrote Peter Pan (see how I brought that full circle?). This rich aristocratic family is on a cruise and they end up shipwrecked on an island, and the butler is the only one with any skills to do anything. It’s a great movie, but I haven’t seen it since it was on VHS taped off of TV. Does it even exist on DVD? Not that I have found yet, unless you count Australian bootleg DVD.

A Pennywhistle. No giant story; I just want to learn to play Irish music. I guess you better make that a pennywhistle and a bottle of whiskey 😀

Apple Brood soda. Brood is this amazing malt, hops, and barley soda with just a hint of apple sweetness, bottled in Lebanon. It’s soooooo good. ‘How could I find this amazing soda?’ you ask. I dunno. Part of the gift is simply finding the stuff. If you send me a six-pack AND the address of where to order more, you have done me a kingly service.

Books–Thirteenth Night and Jester Leaps In by Alan Gordon. This past summer I picked up a pile of books from my favorite bookstore, and one of them was A Death in the Venetian Quarter. The book starts off with four characters, and each of them has three names, and most of them are all foreign-sounding, and then the author changes narrators in chapter three, and then changes back to the original narrator in chapter four, but you don’t realize that until you are halfway through the page. I was this close to saying ‘taheckwithit’ and putting it down. But I stuck it out to chapter 5 and I was hooked. The book was amazing, a mystery set in Constantinople in 1405, with characters from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. So…the two books listed above are the first two in the series.

Leather. I like to make stuff out of leather, and they have this SWEET chestnut brown half a cow hide at this ginormous flea market in Warrensburg.

Kronus Mini Switchgrip Pliers. Transformers! More than meets the eye! As part of my everyday life, I carry a tiny pair of needle-nose pliers AND a tiny pair of wire cutters. Hold these one way–they’re pliers! Hold ’em another way–they’re wire cutters! I could carry one less item, plus have an infinitely cool tool as well.

DVD–The Importance of Being Earnest (1999). Based on the Oscar Wilde play, this movie is amazing, with a brilliant soundtrack. Rupert Everett, Colin Firth, and Judi Dench.

The Oxford English Dictionary. What Christmas list is complete without asking for an OED? You know what they call someone who loves words? I don’t know either, but I’ll bet its in that dictionary. Yeah, it’s a thousand bucks.

So…to sum up. You don’t have to get me anything. But I won’t be fake and pretend like I don’t love receiving gifts. If you get me one thing off of this list, I will be very fortunate and hopefully thankful (I am always internally thankful, but overcoming my inherent laziness to actually express gratitude for kindnesses shown me is a little harder).

Thanks for reading my not-at-all pretentious Christmas list. I hope it was worth the read.

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