Thursday, December 10, 2009

Officially a Senior

Well the semester is over. It was long. It was eventful. I am grateful to be done with it. Grades are good, I escaped with a 3.8. As long as I graduate Cum Laude, that's all I care about.

My son is 1 today. A year ago seems like an eternity and but a breath at the same time.

I'm alive, and I am getting well. Better than I have been for months. I hope all is well for you.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Excerpt

I've been working on a young adult novel for a while now. I thought I'd post an excerpt. Let me know what you think. If you're an evil-no-good-copy-paste-copyright infringer, please leave my work alone, it's mine.

Sprawled across his bed, with his arms folded behind his head, Jake stared up at the tin tiles set into the ceiling of his new room. They were part of the “old world” character his mother so loved about the new apartment. The way the light from the windows played across the ceiling made the inset designs in the tiles look like an army of alien spacecraft he decided.

With a sigh he sat up and looked around the room. It wasn’t very big, but it would work. Certainly not like his room in Texas. But it was on the 4th floor, and through the arched windows he could see some of the taller buildings of the famous Manhattan skyline to the south above the buildings across the street. His room was level with the tops of the trees that lined their street. The realtor had said it was a quiet street, and maybe it was by New York standards. They may as well be in the middle of a bus station though, when compared to the silence of the wide corn fields that had unfurled themselves in the view from the windows of his room in Texas.

No use thinking about that now though. Getting lost in memories certainly wasn’t going to make his current situation any better. Besides, he grudgingly admitted to himself, his new room was pretty cool. He got up and crossed the room to the stack of moving boxes that held his entire life. 4 large cardboard boxes. That’s all it took to encompass his life. What did that say about him?

He tried to split the packing tape with his thumbnail. There wasn’t enough nail left to cut into the tape. He inspected each of his fingernails. All of them were bitten down to the quick, a couple bloody. He really needed to stop doing that, he decided. His mom hated the habit, and as long as he could remember she had constantly been on his case to stop until… Well, until. Now that he thought about it, she had hardly griped at him about anything since the funeral. Kind of nice he supposed, but whatever.

Back to the task at hand, his eyes roved around the room, looking for something to split the tape. Scissors would be great, but they were of course taped up in one of the boxes with his other school stuff. He tried the stiff end of a shoelace, but that didn’t even dent the tape. Strongest stuff on Earth he mused. His eyes fell on his closet door. Maybe the previous owner had left a wire clothes hanger—that should do the trick.

Twisting the knob, he tried to pull it open. It didn’t budge. The old iron doorknob turned freely, but the door was stuck solidly in place. He took a better grip on the knob with both hands and pulled much harder. There—it was moving, inch by bit. He realized half a second too late that the door wasn’t moving—the knob was. He fell backward, landing hard on his backside, doorknob in hand. There was hole left in the door where the knob had previously resided. Not ready to concede defeat, Jake hooked his fingers inside the hole and pulled, hard.

The door shifted ever so slightly before he let go, fingers burning where the sharp wood edges had dug in. To wipe away the pain, he rubbed his hands briskly together. He repositioned his fingers, and this time braced his foot against the wall. Using the muscles in his back and legs, he pulled with all his might. The door sprang open, and he was treated to another quick trip to the floor on his backside, this time smacking the back of his head on the post of the footboard of the bed. Pain crashed into his brain—he saw stars and there was a roaring in his ears.

Jake closed his eyes--wow that smarted. After a minute, the roaring in his ears started subside, and as the sounds of the city crept back in, he became aware of another noise. A dish clattered in the kitchen—probably his mom unpacking the dishes or something. He sat bolt upright. His mom had gone into the office for the morning, waking him to say goodbye. She wouldn’t be back for several hours.

Less than 24 hours of city life, and their house already being broken into—he knew it was going to be like this! He jumped to his feet, scooping up his Louisville slugger on his way to the stairs, silently thanking the heavens above it hadn’t fit into any of his cardboard boxes. He took the stairs to the second floor two at a time, adrenaline surging. By the time he made it to the landing, his brain started to catch up. What if there was more than one? He paused. What if they had a gun? Another clatter from the kitchen mobilized him, but he moved cautiously now. One stair at a time, bat held up at the ready. The third stair from the bottom creaked badly when he stepped on it. He froze, holding his breath. The noise from the kitchen stopped for a moment, but soon started again. It sounded exactly like an armadillo rooting through a trash can on their back porch in Texas. Somehow he didn’t think there was an armadillo hanging out in New York City.

Jake became aware of another sensation—there was a wonderful scent emanating from the kitchen. It smelled exactly like sugar cookies baking. Just like on cookie nights when he and Mom and Dad would bake cookies to celebrate. Any time someone had good news, or a holiday, or even a really bad day—they’d roll the dough out on the counter, and cut it into perfect circles with the tops of coffee mugs. But it wasn’t just about the cookies. Anything could be said over the mixing bowl; any topic addressed while the cookies turned golden in the oven. He missed those happy nights. And the cookies.

“Snap out of it!” he whispered to himself. “A vicious intruder in the house, and you’re day dreaming about cookies!” He crept down the last two steps as quietly as he could, but he needn’t bother. The noises in the kitchen had grown to a series of small bangs and clatters. At the edge of the door frame Jake took several quick deep breaths. He spun around the corner, baseball bat raised over his head, and a kamikaze yell.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Cinema de Vino

I've always been fascinated by the art of wine-making--enology--and I can't imagine a more beautiful place in the world to work than in the Californian wine country. I've wanted to grow my own vines for quite some time, and even considered tilling up half of our back yard to put them in. Alas, we don't plan to be in this house but a few more years. So impatiently I wait, alternatively surfing viticulture websites and Sonoma, CA real estate listings. In the meantime a good movie about wine making will have to do, and I've found a couple for you to find and watch.

Bottle Shock is based (somewhat loosely I'll bet) on a true story. Set in 1976, Napa Valley, and California wines in general, have yet to come of age. Chateau Montelena winery in Napa Valley is run by a father-son duo that couldn't be any further diatmetrically opposed. Dad (played predictably by Bill Pullman) is a perfectionist to fault. Son (played fantastically by Chris Pine) is a stoned surfer dude. In fact their most effective communication occurs in a makeshift boxing ring. Meanwhile in France, a bored wine shop owner (played by the talented Alan Rickman) is searching for a way to drive sales and attendance to his self proclaimed wine academy. The solution? A blind taste test by the finest French wine critics of the finest French wines and the lowly Californian offerings. Clearly the event is designed to embarrass the Americans and further cement the superiority of French wine-making. Rickman travels to California to pick his victims, and when he encounters the Chateau Montelena crew the movie takes off from there. And, as they say, the rest is history.

The movie was quirky and fun, at times nebulous, but never in a bad way. The story is classic David v. Goliath, and boy did I root for our boys. The movie of course fairly glitters with stunning California wine country scenery, which would make it worth viewing alone. This isn't a film for kids, but adults will enjoy it immensely, as I did. I have the movie a B+.

I haven't finished A Good Year yet--my copy from Netflix was badly scuffed and kept freezing. I got about halfway through the movie last night before I just couldn't stand the skipping anymore. My new copy will be here Monday, so I'll finish the film out then. I feel I've seen enough though, to write somewhat of a review. The film follows Max Skinner (played by Russel Crowe) a hotshot London investor. When an uncle dies and Max is presumably left an estate in the South of France complete with a winery and vines, Max travels to renovate the place for a quick sale, and quick profit. Once he arrives he is overtaken by his memories of his uncle, and of growing up there at the winery. What follows is not unpredictable as he encounters the long forgotten wine country lifestyle bent on living life in quality, not quantity. Add in a love interest or two, and I'm betting I know how this ends not having seen the rest of the film yet.

So far I've actually been a tad disappointed with the film. It's felt rushed and twitchy, but perhaps that's intentional. As the man's transformation from hectic to laid back continues, perhaps it will smooth out. Right now, I give the film a C+.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Bully

It may have been nearly 20 years ago, but I can still remember the way the afternoon breeze would sweep through the open windows, carrying school bus yellow sunshine and diesel smoke inside.

It was always at least a 30 minute wait after the bell rang while the buses completed their first run, and returned to pick us up for their second run. Being one of the rural kids that lived outside of town meant we were picked up an hour before school started and dropped off more than hour after school ended.

The trick was to wait around the side of one of the brick pillars of the breezeway that connected the gym to the main campus. The bus lane bordered the breezeway, and it was always a game of chance which pillar to pick, wagering on which bus would return first, and how far up the lane your bus would pull. We always mobbed the bus, pushing and jostling against the after school duty teacher standing like a warden to keep us away until it came to a complete stop. The teachers and coaches all rotated weeks of staying late to patrol our shift. We were an interesting group. There were the farm kids like me, a little socially awkward due to growing up in the stillness and solitude of a farm. And then there were the kids from the trailer park on the edges of the city limits. Mostly Hispanic or Navajo, with an occasional token white trash kid thrown in for good measure--they were the rough kids.

The rough kids were the reason it was important to be aware of which teacher was on duty after school. Some weeks I breathed easier because it was someone like Mrs. Boognl, the algebra and geometry teacher. Red haired, 6 feet tall and mean, she could cause all algebraic equations to flee from your mind with nothing but a casual glare. I withered in my chair in her class when she called on me, but I basked in the protection she provided when it was her week on the bus duty beat. Other weeks someone like Coach Mascarenas would be in charge. During the 4 weeks of PE that we played flag football, Coach was known for removing his glasses to clean them. The rule was absolutely no tackling allowed. However, he'd say with a smirk, what he didn't see, he couldn't punish us for. And he couldn't see when he was cleaning his glasses. His glasses were often dirty after school too, and I'd constantly be on my guard those weeks.

The rough kids were the reason it was important to be near the front of the line to board the bus. They sat in the back of the bus, and the really awkward kids sat in the front to suck up to the driver. The best strategy I found was to be among the first few on board, so I could select my own seat somewhere between the front and the back. Then I could hunker down as everyone else found their seats around me. Most days I could simply blend into the green vinyl and the rough kids would rattle their way past without paying me any mind.

I suppose in the grand scheme of the world, the bullying I experienced really wasn't terrible comparatively. I was never beat up. The physical attacks rarely went beyond slaps to the back of the head or slugs to the arm. The mental attacks were constant though. Incessant teasing, continual degradation, threats, belittling remarks were the course of the day. Every day.

I invited much of it I'm sure. I was above average intelligence. Not in a get-all-your-work-done, slather-on-the-good-citizenship, and ride-the-honor-roll way. I was way too lazy for that crap. In fact I was merely average when it came to rote operation activities. Times tables I hated. Learning Spanish was a nightmare. My aptitudes were much more instinctive. I just knew things. I always assumed that it was because I was a voracious reader that I accumulated knowledge, and truth be told, I'm sure it didn't hurt. But even today, sometimes I just know things without distinctly remembering when and where I learned them. Regardless, I was at the very least an easy target because it bothered me so much to be teased.

Fighting was strictly prohibited by my parents. I knew it down to the very core of me. So much so that when I was once attacked, unprovoked, on the playground by a boy saddled with an emotionally unstable label, I just stood there, doing nothing. I didn't fight back for fear of getting in trouble for fighting. After it was over, I still got in trouble. My parents couldn't fathom that I'd been pulled into the principal's office for anything other than something of which I was surely guilty. There was no chance to plead my case, only the sentencing hearing.

And so this particular afternoon, like usual, I worked hard to play all my cards correctly. I managed to avoid any confrontations during the eternal 30 minute wait after school. I managed to get on the bus near the front of the line, and sat in my usual seat midway back. There in the early spring warmth, I sat. Just in front of the wheel well, on the right side of the aisle, while the afternoon sun streamed in from the left side of the bus. My only mistake was that perhaps I sat in the middle of the seat instead of huddling against the window.

The rough crowd was boarding the bus now, with Manuel leading the way. Manuel was Hispanic, and taller than me. A junior high top dog 9th grader, he was already reaping the benefits of puberty, filling in muscle, scraggly black hair on his upper lip, and the body odor to go with it. He wasn't terribly popular as far as the in-crowd was concerned, but he was included simply based on his terror factor. He wasn't just brilliantly intelligent, and I always thought he looked a little cross-eyed like the inbred cats on our farm. As he was coming down the aisle we locked eyes. I quickly looked away, but not before he noticed my existence. As he drew close to my seat, he paused and reared back with a fist as if to hit me. I of course, ducked quickly to the side to avoid being hit.

He sneered at my reaction, and his cronies behind him laughed. Then he joined in with his raspy cough of a laugh.

And I snapped. It was too much. The injustice of a thousand different affronts roared in my ears.

I burst to my feet. My hand clenched itself into a fist, and the farm-hardened muscles in shoulder and arm coiled to strike. My eyes sought his and gripped the lapels of his return gaze, breathing harsh, acrid anger into his face. He stumbled backward in surprise, nearly falling as he tripped over someone's feet.

It was in that moment I saw it. In his eyes lapped another emotion, filling in like an incoming high tide around the scattered stones of surprise.

It was fear.

A tense moment ticked by, and he realized I had seen it.

I lowered my fist, and a smile twitched just at the corners of my mouth. He recovered his footing and reared back as before, acting as if he were going to hit me. I didn't duck this time.

Instead I calmly sat down, and slid to the window completely ignoring him. I think not really knowing what to do, he went and sat at the back of the bus like usual.

I wish the incident stopped the bullying, but it didn't. That would have been too poetic I suppose. It did change things though. While he never touched me again, or threatened to hit me, he redoubled his mental warfare for the rest of that year. It wasn't until we moved to the high school that his class schedule took him to different parts of the campus. He was old enough to drive at the beginning of the 10th grade, so he no longer rode the bus with us rural kids. I didn't turn 16 until June after 10th grade, so I got another whole year of riding the bus.

In that square, small instant on that 9th grade afternoon though, the entire universe reordered, and quantum reality peeked its auspicious face into the aisle of that bus. I stood up for myself and rendered the bully harmless for an afternoon.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Evony

A couple weeks ago, one of my favorite authors sent me an email with a link to Evony, a online multiplayer game. It looked interesting so I signed up an started playing. It was pretty fun, and very easy to get into. But also very time consuming. In fact I found myself near the computer 18 hrs a day keeping up with what was going in the game.

Well, last night the "alliance" I was part of descended into sheer drama, and I realized it wasn't fun anymore. So I quit.

Pulled the plug an a great deal of hard work, and a few people that I was having fun getting to know. But now I have hours more free time, and a gads less drama in my life.

A good choice I think.

P.S. The local newspaper ran a headline this morning that read "Storms Wallop D/FW" which strikes me as particularly red-neckish. Damn, I need to get out of this state.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Rainy Monday Morning

It's been threatening to rain off and on for most of the weekend, and it did storm a time or two. But this morning, we've gotten a couple healthy bands of showers, with a couple more on the way. It's 74* out, a good 8* cooler than it was this morning when I got up before the rain.

To celebrate I've done nothing but sit on the couch watching Dora and Diego with the kids. We only have small group here this evening, and the entire house needs to be cleaned.

Two of my wife's younger sisters were here this weekend. They had planned on coming to watch the kids while my wife was at work and I was out of town to visit my sister in Santa Fe. I didn't get to go on my trip to Santa Fe, but they came anyway, allowing me a Saturday to myself. That was nice.

But now our kitchen is bare. Seriously, it looks like a pack of ravenous animals came through. There is hardly anything edible left--although what is left is all organic and healthy. The cupboards are even empty of dishes. They're all dirty. So I have my work cut out for me to get the house shaped up for company.

But not yet.

It's still raining.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Movies

In the last 36 hours I've watched 4 movies thanks to Netflix, and Netflix Watch Instantly. Each of the following movies is worth a review in a post of its own. They were all excellent. But since I'm in ultimate lazy mode, and wallowing in self pity, brief synopsi will have to do.

I Capture the Castle is a sweet movie set in the 1930s. It centers around a the family of a celebrated author who unfortunately hasn't written anything publishable in over 12 years. Quirkiness and hilarity abound, all awash in the gorgeous backdrop of an old English estate, and beautiful period costuming and props. Girls come of age, boys become men, a man and his daughter find their literary voices. Wonderfully written, wonderfully acted. Worth your hour and fifty minutes.

I was afraid this movie was going to suck, put bluntly. But I sat down and watched it anyway, based simply on the fact that the story is about a book editor. I was pleasantly surprised. I'm not a big Sarah Michelle Gellar fan, nor Alec Baldwin, but they were happily tolerable. This has all the makings of a formula romantic comedy, and I suppose it plays out that way. But there is no sugar-sweet ending as life crashes in. This cotton candy flick had more reality than many dramedies hitting the screen today. Worth a cozy evening at home, with or without your significant other.

This movie is billed as a comedy, and I suppose there were some funny parts. However, there is some real depth cleverly written into the script, and the story is quirky and fresh. Mind you, as the cover might allude to, there are copious boobies in this movie. Most were probably superfluous, but at the same time, I don't think they hindered the film either. I suppose it will come down to your comfort level with the human body because you will get an eyeful. Just don't forget to pay attention to script, you may just find something worth mulling over.

I watched this film on a friend's recommendation. I never would have stuck it in my Netflix queue, based simply on the storyline and the trailer. Never was a WWF fan, never will be. And the first 20 minutes of the film played like a bad WWF match to me, sometimes quite literally. But once the movie finds its rhythm the story starts sucking you in. The movie turns out to be profoundly sad--I sat in the dark for a good 20 minutes after the credits rolled. If you aren't compelled to examine the direction of your life and relationships after this film, maybe you better just stick to watching TNT Impact or something.

Stay-cation

When things seemed to work out for the better if I didn't try and find a job for the summer until classes start up again in August, I was excited. I didn't view the summer as time off, but rather as an opportunity to dive deeply into something I've been wanting to do for several years now--write a novel.

I mean, I would have all this extra time, and I was sure the words would just roll onto the page for me. I have what I think is a great story, and after a few afternoons spent at Barnes & Noble, I had a pretty airtight outline by chapter laid out.

And then life happened.

It seemed that there was always something else I needed to be doing. On the weekends when my wife was at work and I was on daddy-duty, I tried writing after the kids were in bed. But the kids kept going to bed later and later, and I was too exhausted by the time the house was quiet to even think about being creative. I tried going to bed when the kids went down, and getting up an hour earlier to write. The first time I set my alarm to do so, the kids were up three times in the night, and I finally got to bed about 45 minutes before my alarm was supposed to go off. Se la vi.

But during the week, when my wife was off work, I was supposed to be spending time writing. But there were breakfasts, and lunches, and dinners to prepare. And things around the house to be fixed. And it really was much easier for my wife if I was here at naptime, and bedtime. I mean, I would appreciate the help on my nights, why wouldn't she? Then we went out of town for a week, and had to clean the house several times for company. Watched some friend's kids, and then... Well, you get the idea.

Life.

Good writers find a way around these obstacles with a variety of tricks. Finding time to write is a part of learning to be a good writer. Good writers write. On a regular basis. Great writers? It's a part of their life, like say, breathing. Or changing diapers.

With my summer quickly circling the drain, I planned for an all out offensive writing campaign. I planned a super low cost trip to visit my sister in Santa Fe. A week away from home. Seven glorious days to sit in coffee shops and just write. I planned meals--complete with cooking instructions for my wife. I got 10 days of groceries so she and the kids would be provided for. I arranged childcare for the weekend while my wife was at work. I arranged transportation for my oldest daughter to church for her New Christians class. I did everything I could possible do to make sure the trip would come off without a hitch.

And then I didn't get to go.

Money was too tight. It wasn't fair that I got a week away by myself and my wife didn't. It was going to be too much to ask my wife to single-handedly take care of all three kids by herself for a week. What ever the reason, I chose not to go.

It was probably the right decision.

My wife promised that I'd be able to write like I wanted, but here instead. Tuesday and Wednesday I spent most of the day at Barnes & Noble writing.

But Tuesday I wasn't in the groove. Words just wouldn't flow--every line was a tooth and nail battle. Wednesday was a much better day. Yesterday morning I got to go also, and made some revisions to my storyline. But then I had to be home to make sure my wife was able to nap during naptime since she was going back to work last night. But no worries, it was only until the babysitter for the weekend showed up.

Except that she never did.

She's coming on Saturday morning, but was too tired to come yesterday. She's got a softball game that she wants to watch tonight. So Saturday it is.

I knew that's what was going to happen.

So much for my Stay-cation.

Monday, July 6, 2009

First

1. Who was your FIRST prom date? Didn't go my junior year, my girlfriend LeAnna was my date to senior prom.

2. Do you still talk to your FIRST love? Not really sure who I'd call my first love. I guess my wife has been the only one I've been sure about.

3. What was your FIRST alcoholic drink? Fuzzy Navel Bartles & James wine cooler.

4. What was your FIRST job? Aside from growing up on a farm? Delivery driver for high end restaurants.

5. What was your FIRST car? VW Bug

6. Who was the FIRST person to text you today? Jared

7. Who is the FIRST person you thought of this morning? My wife.

8. Who was your FIRST grade teacher? Mrs. Beecher. She went to our church. So did every single one of my teachers until I got into 7th grade.

9. Where did you go on your FIRST ride on an airplane? Albuquerque to Oklahoma to visit a college I didn't really want to go to, but vowed to to follow my high school girlfriend LeAnna. She dumped me about a month later, a few days before we left.

10. Who was your FIRST best friend & do you still talk? My first best friend was a girl named Jessica that lived down the street from us in San Diego. I was 4. We've lost contact.

11. Where was your FIRST sleep over? At a friend Travis. He had Playboys stashed in his backyard. And sand in his bed.

12. Who was the first person you talked to today? My wife.

13. Whose wedding were you in the FIRST time? My own FIRST wedding.

14. What was the FIRST thing you did this morning? Well, it was a good morning.

15. What was the FIRST concert you ever went to? Petra at the McGee Park County Fairgrounds

16. FIRST tattoo? Volleyball with flames around it on my upper back.

17. FIRST piercing? None.

18. FIRST foreign country you went to? Mexico

19. FIRST movie you remember seeing? ET or Star Trek II Wrath of Kahn, can't remember which.

20. When was your FIRST detention? Never detention, got in lots of trouble though.

22. Who was your FIRST roommate? A guy who called himself Stoner. And promptly got arrested and thrown out of school.

23. If you had one wish, what would it be? More wishes.

24. What is something you would learn if you had the chance? To play the bagpipes.

25. Did you marry the FIRST person to ask for your hand in marriage? No, but I did marry the FIRST girl I asked. Stupid.

26. What was the first sport that you were involved in? Track.

27. What were the first lessons you ever took? I never took any outside of school.

28. What is the first thing you do when you get home? Let the dog out.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Huh?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Sister crashes brother's photo shoot in her pajamas...

6 months

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Three

THREE NAMES I GO BY
1. Robert
2. Bobby
3. Daddy

THREE JOBS I HAVE HAD IN MY LIFE
1. Forest Service Fire Fighter
2. Waiting tables.
3. Pharmacy Tech

THREE PLACES I HAVE LIVED
1. San Diego, CA
2. Farmington, NM
3. Arlington, TX

THREE TV SHOWS THAT I WATCH
1. The Philanthropist
2. Royal Pains
3. Burn Notice

THREE PLACES I HAVE BEEN
1. San Francisco
2. New York City
3. Vancouver BC

THREE PLACES I WANT TO GO
1. Scotland
2. Austria
3. Japan

THREE OF MY FAVORITE FOODS
1. Scallops
2. Venison
3. Field greens

THINGS I AM LOOKING FORWARD TO
1. Camping trip
2. Graduation
3. Moving from Texas

THREE PETS THAT YOU HAVE OWNED
1. Dusty the cat.
2. Bo the dog.
3. Goldie the cat. (RIP)

THREE FAVORITE BANDS/SINGERS
1. Coldplay
2. U2
3. Augustana

THREE FAVORITE SPORTS TO WATCH
1. Volleyball
2. Football
3. Tennis

THREE FAVORITE DRINKS
Alcoholic:
1. Single malt scotch whiskey
2. Microbrewed beer
3. Wine

Non-alcoholic:
1. water
2. Starbucks Green Tea Frappe
3. water

THREE ACTIVITIES YOU ENJOY DOING
1. Photography
2. Shooting
3. Writing

THREE ATTRIBUTES MOST IMPORTANT TO YOU IN A FRIEND
1. Loyalty
2. Kindness
3. Sense of humor

MOST IMPORTANT THINGS IN LIFE
1. Family
2. Peace
3. Love

Faux Pox

So it turns out the chicken pox were actually ant bites. From the ants that were infesting her bed...for a week...

Monday, June 29, 2009

Waterfall



In La Plata Canyon, CO.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Shicken Spotty

My younger daughter is terribly reactive to bug bites--she gets huge whelps that take a couple of days to go down from mosquito bites--so we weren't surprised when she came in from outside with a couple red spots around her eyes last week. A couple hours later when they had blossomed across her face, shoulders, and back, we knew that something else was up. When the spots came to a head, it was pretty much confirmed: She has the chicken pox.

It is a fairly light case I think. She hasn't slowed down at all--no fever, no malaise, and honestly very little itching. A little calamine lotion and she's been fine. It's a beautiful thing to watch an unaltered immune system working just like it should. We've laid low from most of our group activities this week to minimize the spread of this dreaded varicella virus, and just as much to keep from answering quite so many questions about vaccinations. At this point I'm happy to educate anybody who truly wants to understand our decision not to vaccinate, but at the same time I'm done with all the drama that seems to be inherent with the ensuing conversation. I've been asked a couple of times if she had the varicella vaccine, and I've simply replied, "No." When pressed for more, "Because we chose not to.", and done.

One of the 2 y/o's aunts is a stablehand at a horse barn, and ever since the 2 y/o found out, we've been incessantly hounded to "Go see the horses?" Yesterday the boy nursed really well in the morning, so the wife planned to sleep through the rest of the day before she got up to go to work, meaning we were relatively mobile. After hearing the horse request for the hundredth time in an hour, I finally just packed them into the car for the 95 mile drive to grandma's house. It was more than a visit to see the horses--there were cousins in town and a birthday cake to be eaten. It turned out to be a good visit, even braving the in-laws solo with the kiddos.

The visit to the horse barn was the stuff from which memories are made. The 2 y/o was in heaven. She helped brush and curry the horses, fed them sugar cube treats out of her own hand; she even got to sit up on the back of a horse to finish grooming the mane. But she didn't quit there. She helped Aunty Em feed every one of the horses, lugging the heavy feed scoop down to each stall and emptying them into the feed buckets. Then she helped haul hay flakes, and finished up by helping push the broom to clean up. She worked hard and focused for about 90 minutes and she had a great time. As soon as she hit her carseat for the drive home she sacked out.

And yes, totally forgot my camera to get any pictures of this. No worries though, she woke up this morning asking to "Go see the horses?"

Friday, June 26, 2009

1888 Premium Olive Press

Do you like martinis? Do you like them just a little bit dirty?

If so, friends of mine have just started production on a mixer that may turn your head. 1888 Premium Olive Press is 100% pressed olives, and as far as we know, the only one on the market.

This stuff is great, and just a little bit dirty... ;)

Check out their site!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Philanthropist

So, I happened to be watching America's Got Talent the other evening, and by chance the show called The Philanthropist was coming on next. I vaguely remember seeing a trailer or two for the show, but the truth is I rarely watch network TV anymore, what with the satellite. I set the DVR just to check it out and wow, am I glad I did. This show was the best TV I've watched in very long time.

I'm not sure what it was about the story, but something struck a chord with me. And I have a feeling there are many more out there thinking the same things. As we marinate in the muck of our greed and excess putrefying around us in this economic reality, I find it hard to believe that there aren't some of us who resonate with the idea that maybe we all could do just a little more to help each other out.

To be sure, Teddy Rist (James Purefoy) has his own demons to battle--he is damaged goods. But that doesn't change the fact that he is a narcissistic billionaire with little regard for the world beyond what he can see with his own eyes. He IS corporate greed. And when a small shred of humanity in him begins to awaken, coaxed awake into a flickering flame while being tossed about and windswept in an African natural disaster, the effect is startling. I found myself cheering for him.

Maybe in some small way I seek to salve my own soul in his character's growth. I'm not sure if that's right, or even justifiable, (this is after all a lowly network television show), but his soul searching turns my eyes inward. And to me, that can only be a good thing.

Jesse L. Martin, Neve Campbell, and Lindy Booth all play their supporting roles well. But James Purefoy plays his character very well. This show was a pleasure to watch, and I can hardly wait until next Wednesday to watch the next episode.

You should check it out...

Monday, June 22, 2009

HawthoRNe

**Spoiler Alert** This post reveals information about the first episode of HawethoRNe, please don't read it if you've yet to watch.

Having been out of town last week, I set the DVR to record this new medical-drama on TNT, told from the nurses point of view. My wife and I finally got to sit down and watch the pilot last night.

For the most part the show was enjoyable. Jada Pinkett-Smith is a talented actress, and the supporting cast is equally up to the task. The story lines felt a little forced at times, but maybe the writing will settle in instead of trying to flex all its muscles at once trying to impress viewers enough to come back for episode 2.

There were the inevitable medical TV show flub-ups--several of them just in this episode alone. For example, when CNO Christina Hawthorne jumped in to save the day and inserted an IV on a newborn, she put the catheter in backwards--completely counter flow! And the "large vessel" she found in the baby's scalp to catheterize, well she used a butterfly... That same poor baby was on an adult gurney--good thing they put the side rails up to transport--with holes big enough for the baby to completely slide out.

Or how about the patient that went from a blood glucose level of 225 to a diabetic coma within minutes of receiving a grand total of 6 units of insulin...

I think my biggest gripe with the show had to with the sole male nurse character. It's unfortunate the show's writers saw fit to portray Ray (played by David Julian Hirsh) as a medical school reject. The reason Ray didn't get into medical school? He tanked on his MCAT. I really hate the message this sends about nurses--Ray wasn't smart enough to be a doctor, so he became a nurse. Ugh.

The really annoying thing about it is that the story line called for Ray to be smart enough to recognize a doctor had a made a mistake. Clearly we need for Ray to be ALMOST smart enough to get into medical school to make such a leap, right? Wrong. The story line wouldn't have suffered at all if Ray had just been, say, an intelligent nurse (like hundreds of thousands of nurses in practice today), in fact it would only served to empower nurses.

Some of the characters were over the top, but not unpleasantly so. The newbie nurse who has a colossally bad "first" day was a bit funny. The character of Dr. Marshall was waaaay over the top. I only hope a doctor never speaks to me in the manner she did...that will be quite a day.

Overall, I give the show an A for effort. I'll be back to watch episode 2. It was perfect, and it wasn't the best show I've ever watched, but it worked.

Portrait Self

Yes or No

Kissed any one of your Facebook friends? Yes
Been arrested? No
Kissed someone you didn't like? Yes
Slept in until 5 PM? No
Fallen asleep at work/school? Yes
Held a snake? Yes
Ran a red light? Yes
Been suspended from school? Yes
Experienced love at first sight? No
Totaled your car in an accident? Yes
Been fired from a job? Yes
Fired somebody? No
Sang karaoke? No
Pointed a gun at someone? No
Done something you told yourself you wouldn't? Yes
Laughed until something you were drinking came out your nose? Yes
Caught a snowflake on your tongue? Yes
Kissed in the rain? Yes
Had a close brush with death of your own? Yes
Seen someone die? Yes
Played spin-the-bottle? No
Sang in the shower? Yes
Smoked a cigar? Yes
Sat on a rooftop? Yes
Smuggled something into another country? No
Been pushed into a pool with all your clothes? Yes
Broken a bone? Yes
Skipped school? Yes
Eaten a bug? No
Sleepwalked? No
Walked a moonlit beach? Yes
Rode a motorcycle? Yes
Dumped someone? Yes
Forgotten your anniversary? No
Lied to avoid a ticket? No
Ridden on a helicopter? No
Shaved your head? Yes
Blacked out from drinking? No
Played a prank on someone? Yes
Hit a home run? No
Felt like killing someone? Yes
Cross-dressed? Yes
Been falling-down drunk? Yes
Made your girlfriend/boyfriend cry? Yes
Eaten snake? No
Marched/Protested? No
Had Mexican jumping beans for pets? No
Puked on amusement ride? No
Seriously & intentionally boycotted something? Yes
Been in a band? Yes
Knitted? No
Been on TV? No
Skinny-dipped? No
Eaten a whole habanero pepper? Yes
Ridden a surfboard? No
Drank straight from a liquor bottle? Yes
Had surgery? No
Had stitches? Yes
Streaked? No
Taken by ambulance to hospital? No
Passed out when not drinking? No
Peed outside? Yes
Donated Blood? Yes
Grabbed electric fence? No
Eaten alligator meat? No
Eaten cheesecake? Yes
Eaten kids' Halloween candy? Yes
Killed an animal when not hunting? Yes
Peed your pants in public? No
Snuck into a movie without paying? No
Written graffiti? No
Still love someone you shouldn't? No
Think about the future? Yes
Been in handcuffs? No
Believe in love? Yes
Ever been in another country? Yes
Ever ridden a horse? Yes
Believe in God? Yes
Have kids or plan to have kids? Yes
Been on a plane? Yes
Seen the ocean? Yes
Win an award? Yes
Hang up on someone? Yes
Snowboarded? No
Played on a sports team? Yes
Have you ever cheated on an exam? Yes
Have you ever called a significant other by the wrong name? Yes
Have you ever laughed until you cried? Yes
Have you ever received a love letter? Yes

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Jon Schmidt, Musician & Father



This video gave me goosebumps.

Jon Schmidt's Website

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Family Feud

LETS PLAY FAMILY FEUD!!! YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO USE MY ANSWERS!!!!!!
Copy and paste, erase my answers and fill in your answers. Remember, you can't use the same answer as the person you stole it from.

1. Name something you use in the shower?
Shampoo

2. Name a product for men?
Old Spice

3. Name something people hate to find on their windshield?
Bird Poop

4. Name something a man might buy before a date?
Deoderant

5. What is another word for blemish?
Flaw

6. Something you cook in the microwave?
Water

7. Name a piece of furniture people need help moving?
Couch

8. Name a reason a younger man might like an older woman?
She's his mom?

9. Name something a dog does that embarrasses its owner?
Poops in someone's yard.

10. Name a kind of test you cannot study for?
Drug test

11. Name something a boy scout gets a badge for?
Old Lady Street Crossing

12. Name a phrase with the word home in it?
Are you too good for your home!?!?

13. Name a sport where players lose teeth?
Hockey

14. Name something a teacher can do to ruin a student's day?
Pop quiz

15. What is a way you can tell someone has been crying?
Runny nose

16. Name a bird you wouldn't want to eat?
Crow

17. Name something someone would wear with a hole in it?
Sock

18. Name something that gets smaller the more you use it?
Ice cube

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Boobed

I was studying for finals this afternoon at my Third Place when I decided to take a dinner break. As I was backing out of my parking space, another car entered the same row I was parked on. Apparently I was in the way or not moving quickly enough, because the driver began honking at me. When space allowed the car pulled up next me and I was soon getting the proverbial "what for". A few seconds of that, I just rolled my eyes at the very large and angry black woman behind the wheel and started to be on my way.

And that's when it happened.

Evidently my eye-rolling touched a nerve, because when I looked back over, the very large and angry black woman had pulled her very large and angry boobs out of her shirt and flopped them bare nippled out of her open window at me.

Frankly I wasn't quite sure how to take that, but it would seem she was satisfied with my reaction because she hauled them back in and sped away.

Still in shock, I texted my wife, "I just got flashed by a large and angry black woman."

She replied, "??? Flashed with what?"

"Her BOOBS!"

**long pause**

"Where are you?!"

HESI

We took the HESI last week, and I just looked at my scoresheet a little while ago. We were told to expect to do much worse than we were used to being a standardized exam and that we were only first semester nursing students. Well, I've done the whole standardized exam thing--a couple of times--so I wasn't stressing. I did nothing to study for it, although many of my classmates spent hours on NCLEX books. It is worth 15% of our course grade and part of our mandatory minimum 70% to move on program. They told us a 750 was minimum passing, 850 was expected and 900 was a score we could expect to pass the NCLEX with.

It was a 55 question test, I missed 2, and scored a 1435.

I'll take it.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

ER

Thursday was my day to go to the ER for an "off unit experience". It was pretty cool. It always helps when the nurse I'm assigned to actually welcomes my presence. She was very good at her job, and I had a good experience. Our initial patient of the day--right at shift change--had had tonsil surgery the day before as an outpatient procedure. They had bled from their tonsils and throat all night before reporting to the ER (at a completely different hospital from the one where they had the surgery no less.) Patient was in obvious respiratory distress and had sats in the low 60s. O2 through a nasal cannula brought that up to the 70s, but it took a venti mask to make it into the 90s. ER doc couldn't find an ENT doc willing to come behind another surgeon so the patient got transferred back to the original hospital--with much gnashing of teeth.

After that patient, the nurse just handed me the clipboard and sent me in to assess the patients that came in. After I did my interview and assessment I'd report back and she'd help me see what things I did well, and what additional things I might have done.

I saw a wide variety of patients. I saw an 18 y/o drug overdose/wrist slashing suicide attempt. I saw a 9 y/o with an asthma flare-up. I saw a patient with a bowling ball size abdominal tumor--CT showed mets in the liver too. I saw (and helped suture) a full skin/subcutaneous thickness and partial muscle thickness circular saw lac to the forearm. So, no major gunshot traumas or MVC's, and thankfully no chest pain patients, but I think that was probably a good thing. I got to actually participate much more because patients weren't terribly acute. ER might be a fun PRN job on the side at some point.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Checking In

Small update from this side of the couch.

The last few weeks have been full for me. School is in the end of semester frenzy and I've taken multiple tests and practicals. Most weeks I don't have a day off between school and full time daddy duty. Tests have gone well, and I've come to the conclusion that slow and steady wins the race. As does working hard early in the semester and putting yourself in a position to just cruise. Clinical has been interesting. I did my OR rotation and loved it--I may even consider being a First Assist if I decide not to go to CRNA school. My ICU rotation was equally cool, confirming to me that I can at least make it through the 2 years required for application to CRNA school. I like ICU MUCH better than the floor. My brain just doesn't divide itself 5 or 6 ways as easily as it does 1 or 2. Granted the patients are much higher acuity, but I'm totally cool with that.

The patients have been interesting. I've had a pt with necrotizing fasciitis who has had all the skin, fascia, and subcutaneous fat removed from their leg, ankle to groin. Did a dressing change on that patient where the surgeon tried to make me ill on purpose. Lucky for me I was just able to smirk right back at him even through the anaerobic funk. I've had a 51 yr/old who lives in a nursing home who came in with pneumonia. I was the one who got to tell the patient their lung cancer was no longer in remission and was in fact back with a vengeance. I had a patient who claimed to be a nurse who came in for chest/jaw pain for 10 days duration, but knew exactly what pain medication worked best for this kind of pain. Not surprisingly it was morphine. The same patient yelled at me multiple times telling me I had no common sense at one point. I finally snapped back and exposed the inconsistencies in the patient's story, effectively shutting the them up and sending my preceptor nurse into hysterical laughter. Next week is my final day at clinical for the semester and I get to go play with swine flu patients in the ER.

Mostly though, over the last several weeks I've come to two realizations.

1.) Time with my kids is a gift and I should approach my weekend daddy duty with that attitude instead of the attitude I have been.

2.) I am deeply, desperately in love with my wife. This is why when things aren't going well between us it turns me into a decimated shell of a man. That fact doesn't mean that everything is daisies. But, I don't get to choose whether I love her or not, so better to suck it up and make things work. Again, an attitude thing.

Anyway, I hope a few of you check here occasionally still. I miss interacting with you all on a regular basis. I do get to read your blogs sometimes, but not much commenting. I hope this finds you all well and happy.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Monday, March 23, 2009

Hernial Hiatus

I may or may not be taking a hiatus for a little while.

I need to concentrate on some things in my life right now, and putting the pieces back together may take all available time and energy.

Until we meet again.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Normal

Completely normal bloodwork.

If this is normal, I don't ever want to be ill.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Spring Break...and I'm Exhausted

Not surprisingly after the Saturday night we had, the kids and I didn't make it to church in the morning. Sunday evening had been set aside for cleaning out the garage so I could work on Herman, but that just didn't happen. No matter, the parts I needed weren't here anyway. Instead I thought it would be a great idea to invite 3 other couples over for a St. Patrick's Day party on Tuesday evening. So I made a trip to the grocery store instead of doing anything productive around the house.

Monday was supposed to be a day of working around the house. Mrs. Drofen got up with the kids and let me sleep in since she'd slept part of the day on Sunday and she wasn't able to sleep late. As soon as I got up my FIL called to say that he and my wife's 17 y/o sister were headed to the dealership to buy her a new car. I'm apparently the family car deal negotiator ever since I negotiated almost $12K off MSRP of his new Dodge truck a few years back. I'd like to think it's because I'm cranky beyond my years, (Get off my lawn, ya damn kids!) but it's more likely because I was taken advantage of by a car salesman when I was young and stupid. I swore that would never ever happen again. And it hasn't. Anyway, SIL went home with a brand new Civic $4500 under MSRP and 2.9% for 60 months. Mission accomplished. Caught the beginning of rush hour on the trip home from the dealership but still made it in time to go to small group for church.

Tuesday morning dawned and it was time to pay the piper. The lawns both desperately needed mowing because we got rain last week, and now it's 80* out, so hello spring. I mowed the back yard at 1/2 notch above the lowest blade setting on the mower since it's the first mow of the season. It was a beating mowing it that short. It took me an hour and a half and I was left with 8" snow drifts of cut grass. Next I headed to Lowe's and bought a leaf rake to rake the cut grass into the compost pile. When I got back I started raking, but about 10 minutes into that job I figured out it was going to bring the major suck. I decided get out the leaf blower, and although it was like standing in a sand storm of cut grass I managed to blow the lawn clean of cut grass. Then it was time to head out front. Another 2 hours and I had the front mowed and blown clean. Inside for a quick shower, and it was time to start cooking and help Mrs. Drofen clean the house. We were still vacuuming about 10 minutes before our guests arrived, but the entire house did get cleaned pretty well.

For our St. Patrick's Day dinner I prepared corned beef and cabbage, venison skewers, boiled red potatoes, and steamed carrots. Our friends brought a salad, Irish soda muffins, and an Irish apple pie. It was a really great meal. And we had blast just hanging out and watching The Biggest Loser. Yeah, we're old.

Today my day started ok. Until I moved out to the couch to give Mrs. and Baby Drofen the run of the bed for baby-breakfast in bed. Somehow I moved just the wrong way and my upper back was instantly in spasms. So today I started at the chiropractor's office, and then I got to go to the local doc in a box to get some blood work done. I've got a supraclavicular lymph node that is about 30 times larger than normal and tender to palpation. Yes, this is the second very scary symptom I've had in a week and half. Lab work comes back tomorrow.

This afternoon I went to the grocery store, rented lighting equipment for Baby Drofen's 3 month pictures, and tried to buy the girls a swing set but struck out.

And now, I'm just exhausted. Again.

I really hope this fatigue isn't the third very scary symptom in a week and half.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Tag Teamed

Ugh. Last night was killer. It was Mrs. Drofen's 3rd in a row at work, and frankly I envied her.
  • 1755--Mrs. Drofen leaves for work.
  • 1800--Baby Drofen goes down for evening nap.
  • 1810--2 y/o goes into the bathtub.
  • 1845--2 y/o climbs out of bathtub on her own to say she's ready to get out. (Oy.)
  • 1920--Baby Drofen wakes up, hungry.
  • 1930--Baby Drofen eats 4oz bottle of Mommy Milk.
  • 2130--Baby Drofen is so beside himself cranky--no choice but to put him to bed, for the night hopefully.
  • 2150--2 y/o goes to bed.
  • 2220--Baby Drofen, very restless--get him up because he really needs to eat again.
  • 2230--Baby Drofen eats another 4oz bottle of Mommy Milk.
  • 2300--Attempt #1 to put Baby Drofen back to bed. Not happening.
  • 2330--Attempt #2 to put Baby Drofen back to bed. Much rocking, back rubbing, cuddling.
  • 2350--Baby Drofen drifts to sleep.
  • 2355--Baby Drofen wakes up.
  • 0030--Attempt #3 to put Baby Drofen back to bed. Not happening.
  • 0100--Attempt #4 to put Baby Drofen back to bed. Much rocking, back rubbing, cuddling.
  • 0130--Baby Drofen drifts to sleep.
  • 0135--Take a shower.
  • 0200--Fall asleep.
  • 0355--2 y/o wakes up screaming--bad dream.
  • 0400--Watch an episode of Miss Spider's Sunny Patch with 2 y/o.
  • 0425--Attempt #1 to put 2 y/o back to bed. Not happening.
  • 0430--Watch an episode of Maggie and the Ferocious Beast.
  • 0500--Attempt #2 to put 2 y/o back to bed. Much book reading, back rubbing, and tear wiping.
  • 0520--2 y/o drifts to sleep.
  • 0521--Back to bed and precious sleep.
  • 0545--Baby Drofen starts grumbling.
  • 0600--Grumbling escalates to a level where possible it will wake 2 y/o asleep next door. Retrieve Baby Drofen.
  • 0605--Call wife at work, irrationally blow up. Wife says, "You're on speaker phone." Hang up on wife.
  • 0610--Baby Drofen eats 4oz bottle of Mommy Milk.
  • 0630--Attempt #5 to put Baby Drofen back to bed. Not happening.
  • 0645--Spit bubble practice.
  • 0700--Attempt #6 to put Baby Drofen back to bed. Much rocking, back rubbing, cuddling.
  • 0730--Baby Drofen drifts to sleep as wife walks in door from work.

The Rite of Parenthood #11

Even the successful parent has to wonder if 6:45 am is the best time for supervised spit bubble practice, instead of going back to sleep after demanding to be fed. Even for a 3 month old baby.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Meme--50

I got TAGGED and now you're IT!

1. WERE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE? My first name is a family name extending back 5 or 6 generations. My middle name is after my uncle who has passed on.

2. WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU CRIED? During 'Fireproof'.

3. DO YOU LIKE YOUR OWN HANDWRITING? My handwriting has really deteriorated over the last few years. My wife is convinced it's because I'm a doctor.

4. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LUNCH MEAT? Peanut butter.

5. DO YOU HAVE KIDS? Yes, 3.

6. IF YOU WERE ANOTHER PERSON, WOULD YOU BE FRIENDS WITH YOU? I'd like to think so.

7. DO YOU USE SARCASM? Yep, it's like a whole other language for me.

8. DO YOU STILL HAVE YOUR TONSILS? Yes. Not missing any hardware, although that may change soon.

9. WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP? Probably, if they had bungee cord thick enough to hold my fat butt.

10. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CEREAL? Kashi Autumn Wheat

11. DO YOU UNTIE YOUR SHOES WHEN YOU TAKE THEM OFF? When I'm feeling responsible.

13. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ICE CREAM? Vanilla bean.

14. WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE ABOUT PEOPLE? Eyes.

15. RED OR PINK? Red.

16. WHAT IS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOURSELF? My weight, or my job situation.

17. WHO DO YOU MISS THE MOST? The happy fun person I used to be. Bitterness sucks.

18. DO YOU WANT EVERYONE TO COMPLETE THIS LIST? If you have 5 minutes to waste, please do.

19. WHAT COLOR PANTS AND SHOES ARE YOU WEARING? I'm wearing blue J Crew chinos, and I'm barefoot at the moment.

21. WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW? http://pandora.com "Element" by Moses Mayfield--great song.

22. IF YOU WERE A CRAYON, WHAT COLOR WOULD YOU BE? Olive green.

23. FAVORITE SMELLS? Yeasty beer, a well crafted scotch whiskey, rain on the breeze, honeysuckle on the night air, ozone from a close lightning strike, cedar burning in the fireplace.

24. WHO WAS THE LAST PERSON YOU TALKED TO ON THE PHONE? The insurance adjustor coming to look at my wife's car post-Post Office fender bender.

26. FAVORITE SPORTS TO WATCH? Volleyball.

27. HAIR COLOR? Graying by the minute.

28. EYE COLOR? Hazel with fleks of red.

29. DO YOU WEAR CONTACTS? No.

30. FAVORITE FOOD? Sushi, New Mexican cuisine.

31. SCARY MOVIES OR HAPPY ENDINGS? Happy endings.

32. LAST MOVIE YOU WATCHED? Watched part of Bram Stoker's Dracula last night before I fell asleep.

33. WHAT COLOR SHIRT ARE YOU WEARING? Blue with a gray stripe.

34. SUMMER OR WINTER? Winter.

35. HUGS OR KISSES? Hugs.

37. MOST LIKELY TO RESPOND? Hmmm, probably Christy, Kirsten, or Heather?

38. LEAST LIKELY TO RESPOND? Probably Dana. ;)

39. WHAT BOOK ARE YOU READING NOW? Searching for a cheap copy of "Velvet Elvis" by Rob Bell. Just finished "City of Thieves" by David Benioff.

40. WHAT IS ON YOUR MOUSE PAD? Cheesy beach and palm tree scene.

41. WHAT DID YOU WATCH ON TV LAST NIGHT? A whole lot of Maggie and the Ferocious Beast.

42. FAVORITE SOUND(S)? My kids' laughter, a well tuned acapella group, a well played bagpipes, snow falling.

43. ROLLING STONES OR BEATLES? Beatles.

44. WHAT IS THE FARTHEST YOU HAVE BEEN FROM HOME? NYC or Vancouver BC, not sure which is further.

45. DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL TALENT? I have an amazing ability to say the wrong thing at the wrong time. I also read non-verbal communication far better than most.

46. WHERE WERE U BORN? San Diego, CA

47. WHOSE ANSWERS ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO GETTING BACK? Anyone who will take the time to write.

48. WHERE DID YOU MEET YOUR SPOUSE? Microbiology class in undergrad.

49. WHERE IS HOME? Not sure, still looking.

50. WHAT IS ONE THING YOU TELL YOUR YOUNGER SELF? Be patient young man, and stop screwing around.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Drama Magnet

I'd advise all persons maintain a safe distance from me in the foreseeable future.

Today I looked up my accident report on the local PD's website and it was still not available. It was supposed to have been available 3 days after the accident occurred--it's been 5 days. I called the PD and was transferred to the records clerk who informed me the report had been sent back to the officer on scene to make some corrections. Now, I'm all for getting the accident report correct, but I still had not been given the insurance information of the other party. The records clerk felt bad for me and read the insurance information to me over the phone.

I was writing down this information while sitting in the the car at the local Post Office. I was there picking up a certified letter the mail lady said she attempted to deliver but nobody was home--a total lie. It was raining, she didn't want to get out of her vehicle. Anyway, as I'm writing down the information from the records clerk, the asswipe in a Infiniti Q56 parked next to me backed out of his spot, and somehow managed to hit my wife's Xterra in the process. There isn't a lot of damage, a small scrape, and maybe a small dent, but DAMN! So I got HIS insurance information as well.

So once I got home I called the first insurance company regarding my truck and filed a claim. Wouldn't you know it, it turns out that the insurance policy the minivan and driver was insured under has probably been canceled, and prior to accident. The insurance company is trying to determine if there is coverage left or not.

Why me?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Answered Prayers?

During clinical/lab this afternoon I got a phone call from my chiropractor, and don't think my heart wasn't about to come out of my chest when I saw his number. Lucky for me the call came outside a patient room because I would have answered it if I'd been in the Oval office receiving the Medal of Honor, let alone in a patient room. It's just better because now I don't have to explain myself.

Anyway, the CT w/ contrast came back "largely unremarkable with no evidence of soft tissue trauma, mediastinal mass, or large vessel aneurysm."

The radiologist was dumbfounded, comparing my first chest X-ray and my second X-ray 24 hrs later that were identical, to the CT done 24 hrs after that. She doesn't have an explanation as to why it resolved so quickly. I don't have a logical explanation as to why either. There is no logical explanation.

I'm not necessarily one to cling to the idea of miracles. I do believe they happen, but I also know that it's probably not best to depend on them. In my mind I keep ending up at the same logically illogical explanation.

So, it is with great humbleness and eternal gratefulness that I thank those of you that prayed for intercession on my behalf. Maybe that's what did it, maybe I'm just a freaky fast healer. Regardless, I'm not man enough to deny that a miraculous healing has occurred.

----||----

Today was our final day of the semester in our clinical labs. The rest of our clinical days will be spent at our assigned hospital. Frankly I'm relieved because it ends my interaction with the other clinical instructors. I'm not sure how, but mostly by pure dumb luck, I managed to situate myself to be instructed by the best clinical instructor in all of Junior 1. Since it was the last day, we filled out evaluation forms about our experience in lab--another answer to prayer I think. I hate to admit it, but I took a small measure of joy in professionally (and ever so respectfully) expressing my dissatisfaction with two of the clinical instructors. I was not the only one.

Today was medication administration to 'standardized patients' (actors) and it was a completely draining experience. Obviously the patients couldn't take the drugs, even if they were real. It was so tough to figure out where the acting began and real life began. On one hand they'd tell us information we needed to know for the scenario completely lucidly, but then turn around and try and trick us with their acting. Really tough. The woman faking Alzheimer's that threw her crushed medication mixed with chocolate pudding across the room, all over the bed, floor, and wall was taking it just a little too far. I had to give her a SQ injection of heparin too--real needle into an injection pad she had positioned on her abdomen. When she became combative and nearly made me stick myself, it truly pissed me off. It's all fun and games until someone gets hurt. There is no valuable lesson to be learned there in my opinion. But that's just me.

----||----

As so as I got home from clinical lab, I immediately went to my other job--Mr. Mom. I have the kids pretty much to myself from this evening until Sunday afternoon when my wife gets up. My last time to myself was last Sunday evening following my car wreck which I spent frantically studying for my Foundations exam. (Which I somehow managed to pull at 87 on, despite being completely in pain and only studying for 2 hours for.) Oh well, that's what being a dad means, right?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Aftermath

Mrs. Drofen has her PALS recertification class today, so I've been all kids, all day, instead of using my day off to study like I normally do. Thank goodness next week is Spring Break.

Monday was an interesting day. I went ahead and took my Foundations exam even though the events the night before kept me from being prepared as much as I'd have liked to have been. I was also in quite a bit of pain and kept mis-copying answers to my scantron. I hope my grade doesn't suffer too much, but I guess I'll find out later today.

After that I had a group project for my Health Promotions class due. We had to teach the general public about fitting exercise into a busy schedule, and why it's important to do so. We set up a table in the on-campus activity center and started handing out free water bottles and conducting a raffle for free Six Flags tickets and Chipotle Bucks, in exchange for them listening to our spiel. We gave away 4 flats of water, so 96 bottles, and had over a hundred entries in our raffle. All in an hour and a half--I was hoarse by the time we were done.

Next, I headed to the chiro to get checked out. He shot X-rays, gave me an exam, adjusted me, and did some PT modalities. I felt a ton better afterward, and didn't need any pain relievers at all yesterday. However, when I went back for my follow-up appointment yesterday afternoon, we put the X-rays up on the light box and we both immediately saw something concerning. At about T-3ish, my trachea takes a sharp turn to left. I'm by no means a radiologist, but the chiropractic education includes over 20 credit hours of radiology since we can write for and perform Xrays. There is not a simple or benign reason for the trachea to deviate in the mediastinum. The best case scenario is a contusion and hematoma from the wreck. Other causes might be lymphoma, a thoracic aortic aneurysm, or even lung cancer. Needless to say I was freaked out.

After my appointment and associated troubling news, I got to go take my first OSCE of the semester for Assessment. I was able to pull it together enough get through it, and scored a 99.17%. The only thing I missed was stating 160* nail angle as related to digital clubbing from chronic hypoxia. Doh!

This morning the chiro hand carried my chest film to a radiologist he works with regularly, and she was concerned too. Concerned enough to pull some strings and get me a same day CT w/ contrast. So at 1620 I'll be lit up like a Christmas tree. Let's hope there's no packages under that tree...

I'm doing ok I think. I'm pretty scared at the moment. I have a lot of things going for me, and a total lack of secondary symptoms to suggest a disease process. But the diff dx's that come with a mediastinal mass aren't nice playmates. I'd really like to just take my toys and go home, but I'm going to have to deal with this one.

I'd appreciate good thoughts and prayers. :(

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Study Break

Was on my way up to a local bookstore to do some major studying for my Foundations exam tomorrow. Unfortunately the jack-ass in a minivan that turned in front of me and totalled my truck had other plans for my evening.

I'm pretty scraped up from the seatbelt and from the airbag, and I'm already feeling big time sore. Other than that, I'm not hurt. I'm definitely going to be feeling it tomorrow. Popped an Aleve and will be taking another shortly. I've got an appointment with my favorite chiropractor to get checked out tomorrow.

Called in and filed a claim with my insurance company a little bit ago. They've set up a rental car to be waiting for me, and the adjustor will be looking at my truck tomorrow sometime. My guess is that it's totalled given that it's a 2002. I'm positive the frame is bent because the cab was shifted to the right, the airbags went off, and the entire driver side suspension was ripped out from under the truck. What a shame, it only has 62K miles on it--a 7 year old truck...

This could have been much much worse, but I was by myself. Mrs. Drofen and the 3 kiddos were all safe at home. So for that I'm very thankful.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Against the Flow

My tender male student nurse feelings were tested on Tuesday during my assessment lecture. The topic of the day?

Male & female genitalia and rectum & anus. Surely you see the male-bashing potential from just that bit of information. We'll also ignore the adolescent-silly comments that peppered the entire lecture, and move on to what really pissed me off.

We were discussing the need for STD testing, and the lecturer asked the class if we thought that a patient that claims to be in a monogamous relationship should still be tested for STD's. Of course the correct answer is yes.

But then the lecturer went on, and way too far, in my opinion.

She said, "You know these high paid executives, they run around and sleep with any little young thing they can. And then they come home and give these STD's to their unsuspecting wives who have stayed home working hard to care for their children and keep the house just the way the husband likes it."

Now, I'm positive what she describes has happened before. But I'm also certain, (from personal experience), that husbands are NOT the only people who cheat. Wives do too.

I couldn't resist it--I raised my hand and made that point. The lecturer begrudgingly agreed. But it wasn't 5 minutes later that we were discussing statutory rape, and she made another comment about how when this happens she has to "turn the boyfriends in to the cops."

Again, making the assumption that the males are the only ones who might commit statutory rape--a point that is debased quite effectively I think by the rash of female teachers having sex with young students in the news lately.

My clinical group and I (all females) were discussing this at lunch. One of my clinical-mates asked me, "What did you expect going into a female dominated world? If I (she) had gone into engineering, I'm sure that there would be all kinds of female bashing jokes and comments being made."

I responded that while that may be true, that it certainly doesn't make it right.

As nursing students we are expected to act as professionals at all times, representing our school in a respectful and courteous way. We are constantly being reminded to develop our critical thinking skills. One of the principles of critical thinking that we were tested over was the removal of bias and discriminatory language from our discourse.

Unfortunately, this lecturer apparently missed that class...

Maybe I've been over-sensitive here. And the truth is I'm up for a joke as much as the next girl. If the same words had been said in jest, I think they probably wouldn't have bothered me. What bothered me was the fact that the lecturer was completely unaware of her bias.

I'm sad to report that sexism wasn't her only downfall. She is not our regular professor, and she had a poor grasp on the material in both of her lectures. Her previous lecture was on the heart, where she informed the class that ventricular filling is what triggers the systolic contraction...without mentioning the conduction system except in passing... This lecture she made several breast cancer gaffes and reversed syphilis and gonorrhea. Not my favorite lecturer.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Fiasco de Vizio

The 32" CRT TV in my daughters room started acting up about a year ago. When trying to play movies from the DVD player, the picture would flicker badly, and finally it just went out. My thought was that it was the DVD player finally crapping out. I swapped in the one from the living room, and it still didn't work. Next thought was a bad component cable, but when I bought one it still didn't work and I returned it. Sound was fine, just no picture. Obviously this left only one possibility--the video input on the TV was bad. It was kind of a bummer because my girls like to watch movies, and it's nice to let them watch in another room, allowing us to watch what we'd like to watch. It's also nice to put on a movie in the other room to entertain the kids when we host small group at our house. But the TV worked with the satellite, so we just lived with it for awhile.

Well, we got a stupid big tax return this year and I thought that one of the things we'd replace would be the TV's. Walmart had a 32" Vizio LCD on sale for about $450, so I thought now was the time. Vizio is known as a bargain brand, but quality rivals much more expensive TV's. Clearly not the absolute best, but far and away better than comparably priced units. A good value in other words. Apparently I'm not the only one who thought so, because they are sold out online, and none of the 10 nearest stores had them in stock. I managed to locate one in the next town over so I immediately (830 pm) drove over and bought it.

I lugged it home and set it up, first removing our other 32" CRT TV from our entertainment center and putting it on the floor in the living room. Those CRT TV's weigh about twice what the LCD does. I'd put them at 55-60lbs. Anyway I hooked up the new TV and it was beautiful. We happily watched for the rest of the evening, awed by it's bright colors and sharp picture.

This morning I decide to complete the TV shift, and lug the CRT from the living room into my daughters room, and the CRT from my daughters room to the garage. Writing that blessedly lightweight compound sentence in no way approaches describing the effort it took to do that seemingly simple task.

Anyway, I got everything plugged in and setup. Satellite worked fine, and then I popped in a DVD to test...

...and it didn't work.

After much cursing, and plugging and unplugging, it turns out that the cable AND the DVD player were bad. What are the odds of that?

So then I had the treat of packing the pretty Vizio back into it's box to be returned (mostly because I relish being treated like a criminal at customer counters.) Then the TV in my daughter's room had to be moved back to the living room, and the TV in the garage had to be moved back into my daughter's room... Ugh.

So a new DVD player and cable later, we have movies in both rooms. All it took was a late night trip to Walmart and then a morning of moving TVs around, capped off by another trip to Walmart.

Did I mention I hate Walmart?

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Shit.

I've had nurses tell me that everyone has "one thing" that they just don't do, or have a hard time dealing with. For my wife, her one thing is open, sucking, gaping wounds. They make her queasy and have made her light-headed before. But she's also a testament to learning to deal with your one thing--she's been a successful pediatric critical care nurse for 6 1/2 years now, and she does see her fair share of patients with open sucking wounds.

Well, my one thing is...shit. I don't think it's the smell--I've learned I can close my nose off pretty effectively from all the poopy diapers I've changed. It's not the sight of it either--once you're used to breast milk poops, there's not much that will faze you in that department. Unless it moves on its own. But mostly I think it's just the thought of it that gets me.

I know that a lot of nursing care is dealing with poop. I know that it's a fact of life. I know that most patients can't help what's oozing out of their ass. I also know that most patients KNOW that there poop situations sucks and it's a great source of embarrassment to them. I know that putting on your nurse face is the greatest gift you can give these patients.

But the thought of ass juice just makes my skin crawl.

I'm working on it.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Clinical Day II

Today was my second day of clinical in the hospital. I have to say that I felt much more confident when I hit the floor at 0630--I hope that trend continues.

By the luck of the draw I got paired with another awesome nurse today. My assignment was to pick a single patient, complete my assessment, and then collect enough data to write up a total care plan. Given how awesome my nurse was, I made the executive decision to tag along with her and watch her manage the care of 5 acute patients instead. As a result I ended up with doing 5 assessments instead of just one, and all before 0830. After that we started passing meds, and she was so cool. Her challenge to me was that if I could correctly name the drug's purpose off the top of my head without looking it up, I could relay that information to the patient as I...ahem...happened to hand the patient the little medication cup that may, or may not have had the medication in it. I may have pushed a few syringes that may, or may not have had medication in them as well. Of course I couldn't *officially* pass meds since I haven't been checked off on that skill. But let's just say that my years as a pharmacy tech really paid off today...

Amongst our patients today was a patient I got to know last week--a 36 y/o male who'd had a suspected stroke. He was in a semi-coma and completely unresponsive. The docs really had no idea what was going on with the patient though. He'd spiked a bad temp, but wasn't responding to any of the antibiotics they threw at him. None of his cultures were growing anything either. Such a young guy, in good shape too, and has a wife and young kids. Anyway, as the tech and I were giving him a bath today, I noticed when I was washing his back/sides he was twitching a little bit like I was tickling him. So I said something to the nurse, and he started squeezing her hand on request. Later when doing oral care on him, he was retracting his lips to help. And then he started lifting his head and following you with his eyes. When I was leaving for post-conference he actually spoke to the nurse.

That was a pretty amazing experience--he's been admitted for two weeks today, and completely unresponsive the whole time. Until today. I've been blessed with some pretty awesome experiences in my two days of clinical. I hope the trend continues, because I've heard of classmates of mine not being quite so lucky. Personally I think someone is watching out for me. I just don't think I could handle a shitty clinical experience with everything else that's weighing on me right now.

Anyway--the next two weeks we're in lab instead of clinical, so no stories of codes or miraculous awakenings. Although, stay tuned for a post where I talk shit. Literally.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Checked Off

Had my NG Tube Placement, Foley Catheter Placement, and Sterile Wound Dressing check offs today. All went smoothly, and my assessor was really nice. She showed me some real world modifications of the book's procedures, so that was really helpful.

There was a job fair at my school today sponsored by the Career Services. Several hospitals were among the employers there to recruit. I had planned on visiting between my check-off practice this morning and my check offs at 1300. I dropped by and everyone in the place was in business dress and I was in my scrubs. And the room was absolutely packed. I just didn't feel like dealing with the extra stress, so I bailed and studied my check-off material instead. I have a pretty short list of hospitals I'd like to work at, and none of them were there, so I didn't stress about it too much.

Today is Mrs. Drofen's birthday, so I stopped at the local mom & pop bakery where we got our wedding cake made to get her a birthday cake. Unfortunately they no longer accept debit cards due to all the fees associated with them. Well, I didn't have cash and I'm not allowed to carry checks, so they ended up losing a sale completely.

I've debated about whether or not to blog this next part. To blog it validates that it pisses me off and that it affects me. Remember this post? Well it wasn't long after that I noticed that she was no longer on my friends list on Facebook or Myspace. So I headed over to her blog (that she gave me the address to) and left a comment along the lines of: "Hey I noticed you unfriended me on FB and MS, I don't know that I completely understand why, but I can respect that. I just wanted to let you know that there are no hard feelings and that I hope things go well for you."

Big mistake apparently. I happened by her blog again yesterday, only to discover a long post about me. She apparently believes I am cyber-stalking her, (nothing could be further from the truth,) and claims that I have threatened her, (never happened.) She proceeds to tell me that Big Brother is watching, and that she's recorded my IP address etc, (uh, duh?!?). She says that my comments regarding her FB status quote that started all this were multi-paragraph tirades, (they weren't.) And her little crony friends all made snide comments on the post, how much of an idiot I am, etc. The worst part is where she says that we're not friends, will never be friends, and never were friends in the past. I had always considered her a friend back in high school. We had multiple honor's classes together, worked on multiple class projects together, I played tennis with her boyfriend, etc. It just makes me wonder how many people I consider friends never were... So, it pisses me off to have my character libeled like that, but I think I'm just going to let it go. The LA sun & smog has clearly cooked her brain tissue.

Just sucks getting kicked in Internet-balls for no real reason.

And that's my post for today.

Clinical tomorrow morning butt-ass early.

Monday, February 23, 2009

I Am Second

If you don't know this story, watch it now.

I Am Second

The Holiday

I remember when the previews for this movie were playing on TV I thought that it sounded like a good story, but something about the previews made me think it would be disappointing. As a result I've never watched the film, and once again the Netflix Queue surprises...

When I started watching the film last night (after a full day of in-law exposure,) I was tired, and honestly needed something fluffy to soothe my brain while the day wound down. I wasn't prepared at all for how endearing and witty this movie actually was.

As the movie began to play I was repeatedly pleasantly surprised as familiar faces filled the screen. I knew it was a "Kate Winslet" movie, but was happy to see Jude Law, Cameron Diaz, and Jack Black fill out the cast. Even more of a pleasant surprise was meeting Eli Wallach for the first time.

The movie follows several story lines simultaneously, a la Love Actually. We meet Iris (Winslet) and Amanda (Diaz) on opposite sides of the The Pond, but their situations couldn't be much more similar. Both are emotionally stunted in the way they relate to others, leading empty un-fulfilling lives as a result. Fed up to the very breaking point, both end up on the web searching for a way to get away from it all. Where their lives intersect is a home-exchange website, and on a whim they agree to swap homes for a few weeks vacation.

The two leading ladies here are fantastic together, and I have to say I was a bit surprised. This is a wonderful example of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts. I'm ambivalent about both of these actresses. Kate Winslet will forever be tarnished by Titanic for me (eww, Leonardo Di Caprio cooties!) and I often find Cameron Diaz terribly obnoxious and annoying. Here however, Diaz actually finds subtlety within a self-absorbed, obnoxious L.A. socialite of a character. She does an excellent job of bringing out a tender side that leaves the viewer actually caring about her situation. Kate Winslet's character is just as beautifully played, and watching the transformation in her life as she spreads her wings through the course of the movie was particularly enjoyable to watch.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again--I really like Jude Law. I think he's a remarkably versatile actor, and painfully underrated in the Hollywood scene. Here he does not disappoint, playing Iris' brother, and Amanda's new love interest. He's refreshingly open, honest, and vulnerable, but shields a secret close to his heart. I won't give away his secret, just in case you haven't yet seen the film. Suffice it to say when I finally got a handle on his character, my heart ached in hope for him and Amanda.

Jack Black on the other hand is a bit of an enigma to me. Slapstick comedy that shows up in many of his films (Nacho Libre?) just isn't my cup of tea. I tolerated School of Rock--saved only by his tender heart for the kids. Much of the same to report with Shallow Hal. He really does have a great heart that comes across in most of his characters, and this film is no exception. A little quirky, but lovable, he's good medicine for Iris--if only their loyal hearts will allow them to accept the manner in which they met.

One of my favorite characters in this character-rich film is Arthur Abbott played by Eli Wallach. Eli Wallach has a rich cinematographic history spanning almost 60 years. This film is the first I've seen of him to my knowledge. Arthur Abbott is delightfully quirky with a wonderful outlook on life, and I really get the sense that Wallach didn't do much acting. If he did, it was masterfully, if not seamlessly done.

Overall this movie was wonderfully romantic, and beautifully shot. The areas depicted of Surrey, England and L.A. both were just gorgeous. The film left the viewer rooting for its characters, and that's always a good thing.

This film is rated PG-13, with a few sexual situations that seem to arise in modern dating relationships. No nudity, and only a small amount of cussing--nothing terribly distracting. Watch the movie, you'll enjoy it.

I give this movie an A-.