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Friday, December 30, 2005

Here We Go Again!

Oh, geeze... Again?

I was happily sitting at work this morning, when my cell phone tootled it's happy little "Your Wife Is Calling" tune. "Hi, Snookums," I said. "How are you?"

"Oh, my," she said. "I feel just awful. My head's burning up und I can't breathe and I'm so dizzy... I'm on my way home now. Can you come home now too?" I looked at the clock on my computer. It was just eleven, and I'd shown up late for work.

"Gosh, Honey," I replied. "I'd better stay here for a while. We've got lots to do, and we need the money." I looked at the clock again, willing it ahead to, say, five. It didn't change. "You just go home and get all comfy in the bed and I'll be home soon for lunch." She agreed that going to a nice warm comfy bed sounded good and hung up. I turned back to my computer and tried to concentrate on my work. It's hard to concentrate on a repetitive task when you're wife is ill. I'm kind of happy I wasn't trying to be creative at the time... The phone tootled again. Dagmar.

"Hello," I said. "What's up, Chicken-Butt?"

"I tried to stop at the store around the corner from our house to buy some bread, but I almost passed out. I bought the bread, but can you stop at the grocery store for some ginger ale and some nice lemon water? I'm so very thirsty..."

I agreed that I could, yes indeedy, stop at the store and buy aforementioned beverages for my beloved Hunny-Bear. I made a deal with my boss - "Is it okay if I go home," I asked. "My wife isn't feeling well. If something comes up, you can call my cell phone..." The boss was okay with that, so off to the store I went.

Forty-five minutes later I was unloading cans of chicken soup and applesauce into our "pantry." (I'm not sure what to call the shelves upon which our food rests. They're just shelves, really, but it sounds kind of silly to call them shelves. Oh well.) I took the water and ginger ale in to my beloved so she could slurp on those whilst I heated up some nice chicky-soup.

"You sound terrible," my beloved called from the other room. "That cough just isn't getting any better."

"I'm fine," I said. "I'm just getting over pneumonia, that's all." We sat to eat the soup. It was good soup. I smacked my lips appreciatively. "I think I may take a little of that cough syrup the doctor gave me," I said. "It makes me a little groggy, but it did keep me from coughing so much." Ten minutes later I was happily sedated on the couch. Five minutes after that I was asleep.

At five in the afternoon I woke up in the bedroom. How I got there is a mystery that I'll blame on the cough syrup. My poor sick Austrian Snowflake was looking at me. "I don't feel well," she said. "Und you have that wheeze back again and you're hot. We're going to the doctor-man." I half-heartedly protested, but it sounded pretty feeble even to me. "But the last time I went to the doctor I was fine until I got there," I said. "But when I left I had pneumonia. The doctor gave me pneumonia! I don't want to go back..."

Half an hour later I was sitting all by myself in that lonely little room where they park you until the doctor finishes his dinner. My only consolation was that Dagmar was in the room right next to me. I tapped on the wall a few times and heard her tap back. That made me happy.

Fast-forward an hour.

"You have an upper respiratory infection," the doctor-man told Dagmar. "I'm going to give you these antibiotics..." He scribbled on his little pad. "And you," he said, turning my direction, "I don't know what to do with you. I don't know if you have pneumonia again, or if you still have pneumonia from two weeks ago, but you have pneumonia." I sighed and rolled my eyes. "Not again," I wheezed. (It was supposed to be a wail, but it was in reality a wheeze.)

"You have to take these thirteen-dollar pills for ten days. I'm also gonna give you a shot of antibiotics in your keester. You need to come back in again on Wednesday," the doctor-man told me, scribbling on his little pad. "After I give you this shot in your butt you have to sit in the waiting room for at least twenty minutes, just in case you have a reaction - it's pretty potent stuff." The doctor poked about in his charts for a second. "You know, you're both pretty ill. You have a fever of 101.1, and you have a fever of..." he flipped back and forth a few times in his notes, "101.1 too. You both have the same temperature." He flipped his notes again. "That's odd. You guys must spend a lot of time together, huh?"

The nice nurse-lady gave me a pretty sticker for being so brave when I got the shot. That made me proud.

So I have pneumonia, still. Or again. Whichever. The X-Rays ratted me out. Only this time I also have a very sore rump from the shot and a very ill wife. The next few days are going to be interesting!

I'm really worried about Dagmar. She's been ill for over a month now without any relief. At least the pleurisy pain in my chest went away - she's been feeling poorly the whole time. I'm sure I'll feel fine tomorrow, but gosh I hope Dagmar feels better! It rips my little heart out to see her so sick.


Some day I'm going to write something so startling and provocative that I'll get a reaction from people. So far I've gotten a few e-mails from friends about my blog - usually the political stuff - but I've yet to write anything that got me TWO comments or e-mails. I thought for sure that my last post about religion would do it, but I only got one e-mail. Oh well.

So now I'm going to ponder and think and reflect until I can find a topic that will get people riled up. Maybe a nice fictional piece, a satire or something. Wish me luck! But for now I'm going to take my poor ailing lung and go to bed and snuggle with my poor ailing wife.

Monday, December 26, 2005

The Monday After

A Quick Forward...

Before you read the rest of this post, please keep in mind that I don't hate Christmas. I just don't like what
it's turned into the past few years. I miss the old Christmas, like we had when I was a kid, when we visited all the family and went to church and felt comfortable. These days it's hard to find time to see everyone you want to see, and when you go to church no one welcomes you any more and the preacher doesn't know your name and talks into a microphone to 700 other people who don't know you either... I guess it makes me grumpy that Christmas is all about getting an X-Box 360 this year and not about Christ. (Many churches were actually closed on Christmas Sunday this year as they felt no one would bother to show up. That makes me sad.)

I just want Christmas to be Christmas again. That's all...

Christmas is Over

Christmas is done for another year, and we're all happy. It'll be at least five or six months before we start hearing Christmas music again and the stores start pushing Christmas sales at us. This year I never once heard Bing Crosby sing a Christmas song, but I sure heard a lot of cruddy new neo-conservative Christian rock songs. I wonder what they say if you play them backwards...

This is the first Christmas I remember where people told each other "Let's not exchange gifts this year," and meant it. Most people here in Iowa (my bosses excepted) have little or no money to spare, so Christmas money went to the kids, with the adults skipping the gift thing altogether (Dagmar made homemade gifts for our family and friends this year). In fact, this is the first year I've heard people actually complaining about Christmas. "You know," I heard several times, "Christmas isn't in the Bible anywhere. It's really not a Christian holiday. Christ was born in the spring, not in the winter. We're really celebrating an old pagan holiday..." I also heard, "Did you know the first Christians in America banned Christmas for the first forty years they were here?"

Why the grinchy feelings? Our government, led by United States President George Walker Bush, has effectively spent, squandered and stolen the nation's money. People do not feel safe in their homes any more as our government has failed to protect us from terrorism. People realize that our government is misleading us, and that makes people uneasy. There is now a backlash against Mr. Bush and his merry band of thugs in power, and that backlash is following a slippery slope - "Our president is an ignorant man doing evil things. Our president is a Christian. Therefore Christians are ignorant people doing evil things. Christmas is a Christian holiday. Christmas is evil." The logic, while stretched pretty thin, does indeed exist. Many people I talk to used to view theologically conservative Christians as a harmless group of people who'd rather not think for themselves. Those people now view theologically conservative Christians with active mistrust. "You know," I heard the other day, "that guy over there goes to that whacky church over in Morningside, you'd best stay away from him - you know how Christians are."

I have nothing against Christians, mind you. In fact, I'm pretty sure I qualify as one myself. But I remember when the churches remained more or less apolitical. Now Marion "Pat" Robertson is railing against women, advocating murder, and demanding that the Lord give the Republicans "just one more seat on the Supreme Court." (Mr. Robertson, by the way, is quite the character. He was indeed in the Marine Corps as a young man during the Korean War, however his father intervened when they tried to send him into combat, and young Mr. Robertson was sent to Japan and put in charge of making sure the officer's clubs had enough alcohol. While in Japan, Mr. Robertson had sexual relations with prostitutes and sexually harassed his cleaning lady.) source If Mr. Robertson is an example of this new form of Christianity, I'm not impressed. I have a feeling Jesus would be upset, too. These are, however, the Christians that are pulling strings in our government, and these are the Christians that Mr. Bush seems to enjoy hanging out with.

There is no denying that the right-wing neo-conservative Christian faction truly believes in their faith. They have, however, lost all sense of perspective, and they have no sense of humor about it at all... You can say the same about the fundamentalist Muslims that strap bombs to their sons and send them into crowded stores.

It scares me. It really does.

To me, Christianity should be different. And I believe it was different when I was a kid. I remember when Christian churches were very open and accepting of people of all backgrounds. Anyone could go to a church and feel welcome and safe. This has gradually changed, in my experience. People wore their Sunday best to honor God. Now people wear their Sunday best to show off. If you go to your average church during a service you will not find any beat-up old rustbucket cars in the parking lot, but you WILL find shiny new Cadillacs and Hummers. It seems that the churches these days somehow discourage the poor from worshipping. Many local churches donate to the Soup Kitchen or the Gospel Mission, but when is the last time your church invited the people who use the Soup Kitchen or Gospel Mission to one of their services? It won't happen - people from the Gospel Mission don't have money to put in the collection plate, and they don't vote - therefore they tend to be neglected from weekly services in many churches. (My wife pointed out to me that there are several churches in Sioux City that welcome the poor to their services - so my blanket statements may be erroneous. But in my personal experience, if a homeless person with mental problems and poor hygiene were to show up at a Sunday service, he or she would not be welcomed with open arms. I sincerely hope that there are churches that welcome ALL people to their services.)

Christianity used to be people helping people. The church I used to go to in LeMars often donated money to a mission in Africa. They stopped sending so much money, though, because they needed a new parsonage and they wanted to put glass offices and elevators in the church. The result? A nice new church in Iowa and lots of poor people in Africa. It seems to me that your average neo-conservative Christian feels very smug and good about himself for donating five or ten bucks a week at church. But it also seems likely to me that this same average neo-conservative Christian would never help a homeless man by giving him a job or even a sandwich - this sort of charity is left to the "left-wing bleeding-heart heathen liberals," a group the neo-conservatives feel are trying to ruin the country. How? By being nice to people, that's how.

We need, as a country and a religion, to start looking beyond the literal word of the Bible and realize just what Jesus was trying to teach us. The big lesson I got from Jesus is simple - be nice to each other. The world is a small place. We need to realize that not everyone looks like us, and not everyone thinks like us, but we are ALL human, we ALL deserve respect and dignity, and we ALL are in this together.

A Day Off

This is the first time in a month I've had a day off and been healthy enough to enjoy it! I wonder if my pneumonia and my wife's bronchitis could somehow be linked to the rising energy costs...? I'll have to find a way to blame the Bush administration for this, somehow...

I've not been paying any attention to politics lately, so I'm playing catch-up, and I like what I see, for the most part.

United States President G. Walker Bush was caught spying on U.S. citizens. No one's sure why Mr. Bush endorsed this behavior as there are laws in place to allow the U.S. Government to place wire taps on telephone lines IF they get a warrant from a special court first. It turns out that this special court has hardly ever turned the government's requests for wire taps down. So why did Mr. Bush authorize the National Security Agency to snoop it's own citizens? We'll know for sure when the Judiciary Committee investigates... source (From what little I've read on this issue it sounds like the N.S.A. has listened to, analyzed, or recorded a LOT of phone conversations and e-mail correspondences. In fact, the only criteria to be met for eavesdropping was that one end of the conversation or correspondence take place outside the United States. So when my wife called her relatives in Austria to wish them a merry Christmas the government may have been listening. Did the government read the e-mail joke I sent to a friend in Canada? I dunno... Spooky!) President Bush has broken the law. He should be mindful of what happened to the last Republican president who had a penchant for wiretaps...

I was VERY happy to read about possible censure against Mr. Bush and Vice President Richard Bruce "Dick" Cheney, and investigations into possible impeachment offenses. That makes me happy! Happy happy happy! source

I keep getting e-mails from the democrats telling me that the majority of American citizens now wish to see impeachment hearings against Mr. Bush. I don't know if that's true or not, but it seems to me that if the Republicans tried to impeach President Bill Clinton for piddling around with an intern, well, the Democrats should be able to impeach Mr. Bush for lying to his citizens, spying on his citizens, giving money to his friends (Haliburton), starting a war in Iraq, failing to find Osama bin Laden, condoning torture... The list goes on and on. The question then is, if we CAN impeach Mr. Bush, SHOULD we? I don't know. Regardless of how cavalierly the republicans treated impeachment eight years ago, impeachment is a very serious thing. I'm worried that if we impeach Mr. Bush the republicans will start impeachment hearings on the next democratic president the day after he or she is sworn into office as retribution. But on the other hand, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney have clearly broken the law and should be punished for their actions. They keep spouting how people should take responsibility for their actions - I think it's high time they led by example.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Christmas Eve, 2005

Gettin' Ready

Sometimes I clean up good. Other times I just look like a wet hippie... Today's a wet hippie day. I have successfully showered, scrubbed, brushed, combed, polished and shaved my carcass, but I don't really look any better. I'm sure I probably smell better, though.

I've not had a cigarette since July 26th. Today I had my first cup of coffee since then. I may have another cup of coffee in a few weeks when the tremors go away... (Caffeine and alcohol are notorious triggers for nicotine addiction - it brings all the pain back for some reason. Easy enough to avoid, for the most part, but I'm a musician and that involves hanging around in seedy bars twenty-plus hours a weekend. Sooner or later I have a beer and start twitching. I really, REALLY hope it goes away! It is much better, though, than it was five months ago!)

How is it that I'm STILL finding songs on my hard drive that I've never heard? Believe it or not, I just had an Elvis song I've never heard before bounce it's merry way through my speakers. Elvis. You'd think by this time I'd have heard every Elvis song in the book... Oh well.

I'm ready for the evening's festivities. I have my cell phone in the upper right shirt pocket. The camera is in the upper left shirt pocket. I'm wearing pants and my socks seem to match. I didn't actually comb my hair, but I ran my fingers through it twice. I'm ready. My beloved wiking vife is puttering about the house in her nightshirt, making faces into her portable mirror and smearing stuff on her face. The other hand is wrapped around the hair dryer, which she's waving in the general direction of her head. She has three distinctly different outfits hanging in the doorway, ready for her to choose. I have the feeling that she's taking this more seriously than I.
Maybe I should go put on a T-shirt that doesn't have a rock star on the front...?

I went to work most of last week, but the lungs are still hurting. Yesterday I went "shopping" with Dagmar. (It wasn't really shopping - our microwave started throwing sparks, so we went and got a new one.) After just ten or fifteen minutes of walking in the store I was leaning pretty heavily on the cart. "Are you okay," asked my beloved. "You look like you're going to pass out." I didn't pass out or anything, but I was happy to get home and sit down. I'm hoping I can make it through the next few days' festivities without having people look at me and ask if I'm gonna pass out... I'll be fine, I'm sure.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Almost Christmas Already?

Christmas Past...

Ah, a time to cast my rusty dusty brain cells back yonder to recall past yuletimes. Oh, the joy! So many memories, and all so hazy...

The first Christmas memory that comes to mind involves a tree. I forget if it was the first Christmas Dagmar and I celebrated together, but it was certainly in the first few years... "Ve need a tree," said my beloved Austrian bride. "I vant a tree dis year." With a new house and a new wife, I sort of wanted a tree too. We'd be starting our own traditions! For years hereafter, I thought, we'd follow in the very footsteps we were creating on this hallowed day. "A tree sounds good!" I said. "I think I have a Christmas tree in the basement somewhere..." I could picture the box in my mind.

"No, I think ve should get a real live Christmas tree," my wife said to me. "My mama gets a live tree every year, and it alvays smells so good." I had visions of a lush, deep green tree snoozing gently in the corner of our living room. "Every year she chooses her own tree," Dagmar continued. "Then she trims it and puts it up in her living room. The needles smell so good, and the branches are always so full..." I've never had a real live Christmas tree. Sounds fun to me!

A few days later we met with Dagmar's mother (also known as Mama K) to go tree hunting. "Do we need to bring an ax?" I asked, "Or do they provide one for us to use?" The only Christmas tree farm I know of is forty miles away from town. I heard they make wreaths, too. Dagmar and her mother were too busy chatting to answer me, though. Within minutes we were all in our cars, Mama K in the lead in her little blue car, Dagmar and I trailing behind in our little red car.

"Where's your mama going?" I asked, peering through my grimy windshield at the gloom outside. "I think the Christmas Tree Farm is the other direction."

"Oh, no," Dagmar answered. "We buy them at the grocery store."

"You buy them at the grocery... Christmas trees at a grocery store?"

Sure enough, we pulled into a Fareway parking lot. Mama K led us up to the side of the building, where about a hundred Christmas trees were lined up against the wall, trying to find a warm nook out of the wind, branches all tied up with string. "I guess we don't need an ax," I said. By the time I finished the sentence, Dagmar and Mama K were out of the cars running with gleeful abandon back and forth amongst the trees. I parked the car and slowly wandered over to the spectacle.

"Ooh, Mama, come see this one," Dagmar cried. "I think this would be perfect in your living room!" Mama K materialized at her side, chin in hand, pondering the situation intently. "I don't know," she said. "It's a little too brown. What do you think, Chris?" she asked me. I just shrugged. I'm color-blind. On the best of days I can guess colors pretty good, but not in the dark when it's snowing and my feet are cold. "I thought it looked okay," I said. "But there are plenty of others."

Back and forth Dagmar and Mama K flitted, chattering back and forth in German. They'd pause by a tree, shake it a little, consider, then jump to another tree, having a ball. It was fun to watch! Eventually they decided on a tree for Mama K. "Not too big, not to small, not too brown, not too green, not too big around, not too skinny. Just right!" They drug said tree to Mama K's little blue car and came back. "Now, which one do you vant for our haus?" Dagmar asked. I reached in the pile, more or less at random and grabbed a tree. I'd been wandering slowly past the line of trees for twenty minutes already, hoping for some psychic signal, some feeling that this was the perfect tree for me, but I hadn't heard any cosmic voices. Never having had a live tree before, I wasn't real sure what to look for... I mean, when you cut those strings off, how big will the tree expand? Really, now, who knows these things? So I just kind of grabbed a tree that looked more or less symmetrical and short enough to sit in our corner.

"That's the PERFECT tree," said Mama K. "Just perfect for you two." Dagmar beamed a smile my direction, her face aglow. "It is perfect," she said. "I like it." It made me kind of wish I'd actually taken more time in my selection...

We dragged our tree over to our little red car and went to pay for our trees. Being the gallant guy I am, I gave Dagmar my billfold and said, "You go on in and pay and warm up a little. I'll get the trees into our cars." She looked me in the eye and said, "I'm never gonna get you into a store with me, am I," and scampered off after her mother.

Alone, more or less, in the parking lot, I eyed my little red car. I looked at the behemoth tree I'd chosen. I looked at the car again. Hmmm... I opened a back door and started shoving tree. It didn't work. I opened the other back door and tried tugging and pulling on the tree. No dice. This tree is NOT going to fit in this car. I went back to the other side and tried pushing again. The tree fell limply into the mud, not at all interested in getting in the car. I stamped around and blew on my hands in the age-old tradition for a few minutes, contemplating the reality of converting my car into a, well, convertible.

"Hi, Honey. Vy isn't de tree in de car yet?" asked my wife behind me. "By the way, Mama paid for our tree. She's nice to us!" I turned my back to the car to face her. "I'm sorry, Snickerdoodle, but the tree just isn't going to fit in the car. I've tried five ways - it just won't fit." I turned to gesture at the car. "As you can see, there's just no way... Now how did she DO that?" Mama K had, in one fell swoop, flipped the tree into the eighteenth dimension and got it into our car in about four seconds. I watched her as she did the same with her tree - I have no idea how she did it, and I was looking right at her. Not being one to argue with facts, I simply accepted that the trees were indeed in the cars and got in to drive.

"We need to go to Mama's first," Dagmar said as she got in the car. "She'll show us how to trim it and everything, and then we can use her saw." With that, we were off to Mama K's. "I'm curious how she's going to get that tree out of her car," I said. "It's wedged in there pretty tight."

Eventually we arrived at Chez Mama K. Her little blue car stopped in the driveway, we stopped right behind. Mama K opened the back door of her car and stood back as her Christmas tree sort of oozed and floated it's gracious, sinuous way out of her car. Mama K then delicately grabbed it by the top and dragged it into her garage. "We need to cut some of de bottom branches off," she told me. "Und we need to cut the bottom off at a little bit of an angle so it can drink." Shouldn't be a problem - I'm an Eagle Scout, after all. I grabbed the saw and started trimming. And trimming. And trimming some more. After what seemed like an hour of wrestling with that wretched tree I was ready to cut the bottom off and move it into the house. Another hour later, sweat puddled at my feet, I was done. As I stood straight, pausing to admire the cracking noises my back was making, the door opened. "Oh, there you are," said Mama K, Dagmar peeking over her shoulder. "How is the tree?"

"I just finished now," I said proudly, kicking the tree. "Oh, vunderful!" said Mama K. In a twinkling, I was standing in an empty garage holding a Coke (in a glass bottle, no less). Shrugging to myself, I followed inside. The women-folk had the tree stand and skirt all ready to go, and boxes of ornaments waiting. In less than thirty seconds the tree was up, standing straight and tall in Mama K's living room. "You two munchkins go home now," said Mama K. "You have to put up your own very perfect tree now!" With that we tottled to the door and said our good-byes. Within minutes we pulled up in our own very perfect driveway.

"You go on inside," I said to my beloved. "I'll get the tree out of the car and trim the branches off in the porch. Then we'll have a Christmas tree!" She beamed at me and went inside to do Christmasy things. I turned to the car, complete with tree. I opened the back door and stood gracefully aside as I'd seen Mama K do and waited for the tree to gently waft to the ground. Nothing. It just sat there in the back seat, staring at me. I grabbed a branch and tugged a little. Nothing. Eventually I opened all the car doors and tried heaving it out the other way. That just got me a needle up my nose. Finally, about twenty minutes later, I turned into a mighty jerk and managed to get the tree out of the car and into the porch.

"Honey," I hollered, poking my head in the house, "I'm freezing. Can we do the rest tomorrow? My fingers are going to fall off..."

"But I really vant to put it up tonight," she said. "Come warm up a bit, then we'll do the tree."

Minutes later, saw in hand, I approached the tree. "It's just me and you, now, tree." I said. "Just you and me. And I have the saw... Let me just see you give me some of those shenanigans now - we'll see who the boss is now, huh!" With that I slipped on a pile of needles and fell, banging my keester something fierce on the floor. I slowly set the saw down and proceeded to rip the lower branches off the tree by hand. It took a bit longer, but it made me feel MUCH better. Muttering obscenities under my breath I drug the tree into the house. The only thing left to do was to put it on the stand and get it straight. Mama K did it in three seconds.

An hour later, hunched over, nose to toes, with a tree on my back, I moaned, "Can't we just finish this tomorrow? My back hurts..."

"But we're almost done," my beloved said, not for the first time. "Now a little to the left... No, your other left..."

Eventually, we got the tree more or less vertical. With glee I tightened it into the base and stepped back. Yick. Some of the branches flopped almost to the floor, other branches were pointed up, almost like the tree was trying to itch it's nose. And there was a rather bare spot. I turned it ninety degrees. Not much better.

"It's perfect!" Dagmar's eyes were agleam, her face joyous. My eyes were bloodshot, my face furious. "It'll do," I said. I went off to the basement in search of that dusty bottle of brandy I'd bought the year before, intent on soothing my problems at least a bit. My fingers were throbbing, half in reaction to the cold, half due to the myriad tiny cuts and scratches that my poor delicate digits aren't used to dealing with. But I was done! The rest is up to Dagmar...

Twenty minutes later I reappeared in the living room, being entirely unsuccessful in my search for the mythical brandy. The tree had been transformed. Dagmar, with loving care, was about halfway done decorating the tree. I sat on the couch and watched her, and she explained the history of each and every ornament she hung. It was a good way to end the day, lost in reminiscence, exploring our new future together, starting new traditions... The tree was indeed perfect. Dagmar had truly worked wonders.

The next day we arrived home from work at the same time. We smooched in the driveway and made our way to the front door, delicate snowflakes wafting in the gale. Dagmar dug her keys out...

"MY TREE," she wailed. "What happened to my beautiful tree? Oh, my tree!" I peeked over her shoulder. The tree was laying in the middle of the floor. Ornaments were strewn about. There was a smallish, rather smug-looking orange kitten sitting on the tree, looking at us, just as proud as the dickens. "STUPID CAT!" bellowed Dagmar matter-of-factly. "Hold still while I chase you!" The next few minutes were, yes indeed, spent thusly:

From the kitten's perspective, two large monkey-folk opened the door, woke him up, and played a merry game of "Let's Chase the Pretty Kitty."

From my perspective, my wife disappeared and a crazy lady took her place as she chased the kitten around the house, beating at it with her purse.

From my wife's perspective, the kitty ruined the tree, ruined her ornaments, ruined all the hard work we'd done, and had, in fact, ruined Christmas as we know it.

Little did we know that this scene was to repeat itself in various incarnations over the next few days...

In any case, we whomped the tree back up on it's stand and put the ornaments on again, with slightly less care than we'd shown the previous night. The kitten (Fruitloop) was banished to the basement for the night.

"Do you think he'll do it again," Dagmar asked me. "Vy did he tear our tree down?"

"He was just playing," I replied. "He was probably just climbing in the tree and it fell over. I've got it braced up pretty good now. He shouldn't be able to knock it down again. I bet it scared the bejeezus out of the little fella..."

The next night we came home to find the tree still standing, but each and every single little red silk Christmas ball was laying on the floor, shredded. "CAT," said Dagmar through clenched teeth, "come here and get yelled at." Again, the two of them played a merry game of "Chase The Pretty Kitty." Winded, Dagmar sat on the couch. "What are we going to do?" she said, and proceeded to start crying. "All I vant is a nice tree for Christmas, and that CAT of yours destroys everything I do!" She cried for a long time.

The next night Dagmar met me at the door. "Look vhat I bought," she said, waving a spray can around in front of me. "I found it at dat Petco store across the street. Look here, it says to spray this on things you don't vant your kitty to play with... I'm gonna spray it on the tree so der Fruitloop won't make me crazy mit der ornament playing all the time."

"Sounds like a good idea to me," I said, shrugging out of my coat. "Go ahead and give it a shot!"

With that, Dagmar took aim and pushed the button, unleashing the most foul-smelling, odiferous cloud of smog I'd ever beheld. In mere seconds, the tree was lost in a fog of dead-skunk smell, as was the couch, the chair... "Well," I gasped, "that ought to keep the kitty away. It's sure gonna keep ME away!"

Dagmar wiped a tear from her eye. "Wow," she coughed. "Dat stinks!"

About that time Fruitloop made his appearance. Without a second thought he jumped into the tree and started climbing. Dagmar and I looked at each other. We looked at the kitten, happily making his way upwards through the branches. We looked at each other again. "I'll go open a window," I said.

Fast forward a few months to the middle of February. "Okay," my wife said. "Ve can have a birthday party for you, and you can invite all your little friends and have cake, but what are ve gonna do with that Christmas tree on the porch? You can't have people over to our house with a Christmas tree on the porch..." So, I put a sign on the tree. "Free to good home," it read, "one slightly-used Christmas tree." No one took it.

A few months later, as Dagmar and I were getting home one evening, we noticed fireworks on the horizon, just over the trees. If we stood in the street we had a perfect vantage point to see the Fourth of July fireworks! So, we stood in the street and gawked at the fireworks and oohed and aahed. Eventually I realized that Dagmar wasn't standing next to me any more. I glanced around the street and didn't see her anywhere - the street was deserted. I mentally shrugged to myself and continued gaping slack-jawed at the light show in the sky. By the time the last "BOOM" had echoed off the cityscape my wife was again by my side.

"Where did you go?" I asked. "And when did you change your clothes?" She was wearing black from head to toe - black shoes, black pants, black T-shirt, even a black stocking cap.

"You just never mind where I was," she said. "Let's go inside..."

The next day I got up and headed out the door to work as per standard routine. I noticed, however, that the Christmas tree was absent from it's appointed post, leaning in the corner. I looked out the window. Sure enough, there was a trail of pine needles leading from our door to the street, down the street, and around the corner, disappearing underneath the bridge. I went back inside. "Wife," I said. "What happened to the Christmas tree?"

"I took care of it last night," she said. "Everyone was so busy looking at the fireworks. It was the perfect time."

"Where did you take it?" I asked.

"Just you never mind," she said.

"Did you toss it under the bridge where the homeless guys live?" I asked.

"How did you know?"

"Just you never mind," I said.

And you know, the wind picked up that morning and blew all traces of Dagmar's Christmas Tree Excursion away...

Monday, December 19, 2005

A Monday at Home, Unfortunately


I still have pneumonia. I'm not sure if I've "turned the corner" or not, but if not I'm at least close enough to see the corner. I've been ill for at least three weeks now, and have missed three days of work. The thirteen-dollar pills seem to be working... I can breathe a bit now without pain, my fever broke (for the most part) last night, and I can sit up for about half an hour or forty-five minutes. Things that still suck - nausea, headache, muscle aches, cramps - the usual litany of problems that happen to a body that's been flat on it's back for days on end. My sense of time is all whacky, too.

Dagmar, my beloved Viennese bride, was diagnosed with influenza a few weeks ago. She doesn't seem to be in very good shape, either. She had bronchitis and a sinus infection, too. I worry about her. I should be taking care of her at this point, but she won't let me.

The Year's Best Movies...

Or more accurately, the best movies I've seen this year.

"A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum," - a comedy filmed in 1966 with Zero Mostel playing the lead, Pseudolus, is, was, and always will be one of my favorite films. Where else can you hear a man named Gloriosus bellow in basso profundo, "Stand aside everyone - I take large steps." Lots of singing and dancing. source

"Madagascar," - a 2005 cartoon (or animated feature, whatever). I saw bits and pieces of it while I was supposed to be socializing at my brother's house on Thanksgiving. Cute story about zoo animals that make a break for the wild and end up washing up on the shores of Madagascar. "Where are you giants from?" asks a rather small critter. "We're from New York," answers the zoo lion. "All hail the New York Giants," intones the critter. It made me laugh. source

"Schultze Gets the Blues," - a 2003 German film, this was easily the best movie I've seen in years. (I've mentioned this one before - click here to see what I said the week after I saw it.) The film starts fairly slowly and gently, and stays that way throughout. There's a delicate sense of humor, and a startling ending that had me pondering life in general for weeks afterwards. It has subtitles in the beginning, but it's well worth watching anyway! source

"It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World," - a 1963 comedy about greed, this movie always gets my attention. With a cast including Spencer Tracy, Milton Berle, Sid Caesar, Buddy Hackett, Ethel Merman, Micky Rooney, Dick Shawn, Phil Silvers, Jonathan Winters, Eddie "Rochester" Anderson and even Jim Backus (of Gilligan's Island fame), you know it's gotta be interesting. And it is indeed. source

"Hitchhiker's Guide," - if you read the books, you'll like the movie. If you haven't read the books, don't bother - you'll be hopelessly lost. I've read the books at least five times, and I was struggling to hold the plot in mind. It skipped around a lot. And they had to do substantial rewriting to get it to fit in a movie. But good nonetheless.

"Mystery Science Theater 3000, The Movie," - I've seen woefully few episodes of MST3k, but at least I've seen the movie now. I sat on the couch all by myself, laughing like an idiot. It's been a LONG time since a movie's made me laugh out loud. What they do, see, is they take a really bad science fiction movie and, well, they watch it. One guy and two robots sit in the front row down there where you can see them and heckle the movie. "Okay, let's see here," says the guy as he reads the opening credits. "Shatner, Shatner... No doesn't look like he's in this one; we're safe." source

I have now taken a nap...

...and I'm hungry, really hungry for the first time in weeks. Lately whenever I've thought I was hungry it'd turn to nausea by the time I could get three crackers in me. I've lost ten pounds so far... Which is okay, but I'm not the biggest guy in the world to start with. I could probably stand to lose another five pounds off me big, bulbous belly, but I'd hate to lose more than that. I'm looking forward to getting back to work tomorrow. I hope I can get a full day in before I gotta lay down, though.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Still at home

Boy, I don't remember ever feeling ill for this long before. It's been at least three or four weeks since I've felt well, and I don't think I've got more than four hours sleep a day/night in a week and a half or two weeks.

The bad: I have pneumonia.

The good: I'm still at home with my wife.

I'll write more later, I promise.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

What? It's Thursday Already?


Today's one of those days. I'm at home for lunch, and I really don't want to go back to work. I'm pretty sure I can be underpaid, disrespected, double-guessed, kept in the dark and humiliated somewhere with a more comfortable chair to sit in. Something's gotta change. I've got a college degree, for cripe's sake. And nearly 20 years experience in what I do. No raise in years, they cut my vacation pay, they still won't give me the promised retirement fund... I can put up with all that, provided I like what I do and feel respected. That ain't happening.


Good jam at the Chesterfield last night! I've been feeling very cramped-in and isolated lately - it's been a long time since I've talked to someone other than myself, my wife, and my buddy Drew at work. (There's precious little communication at work. The occasional bark, that's about it.) So I was really ready to go watch some musicians play last night and hang out with friends And I have to admit, I feel much better about my place in the cosmos today.

Aw, poop. It's time to go back to work. I still have four or five hours of broken hopes and heartache before I can come home again and hug my wife.

Later that same day...

Well, I made it through the afternoon without quitting or being fired, much to my chagrin. And I did indeed go home and I did verily hug my wife.

"You feel hot," she said in mid-hug. "Vait here." So I stood there, waiting. Back she came with the thermometer. After a minimum of scuffling and dancing about she got the thermometer in my mouth.

"But I feel fine," I said around the thermometer. "I'm just a little tired."

"You have a temperature of 102," she said. "Do you want to go to the doctor?"

"No!" I barked. Then, "Well, maybe if I don't feel better after supper." Then, "Yes. Take me to the doctor. Please."

Pneumonia sucks. I have pneumonia. The doctor won't let me go to work and told me not to leave the house until Monday at the very earliest. Pneumonia sucks. I'm lucky I have a good wife with a healthy sense of humor that will put up with my sick butt.

The worst thing about it is that the pills that make you better are thirteen dollars each. The best thing is that my wife is going to make me Jell-O.

I'm going to go lay down now and count my precious thirteen-dollar pills. Have a good night everyone!

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Pleurisy Sucks

Cheese and Whine

Wow! I haven't slept in at least 36 hours. Every time I roll over I get shooting, stabbing, sharp, icky pains in my chest. The few times I have drifted off, I've dreamt about drowning - I simply can't inhale deep enough to get any air.

Whine whine whine.


Dagmar pointed out that yesterday's post made her look like a control freak. "What you wrote yesterday," she said, "it makes me look like I alvays tell you what to do. Now you march your little butt right over to dat computer and tell everyvun the truth."

To be honest, I do have a tendency to blame Dagmar for things that aren't her fault. Especially when I'm doing something I don't want to do, but really need to do. Like go to the doctor and stuff like that. I enjoy teasing her by teasing the doctor.

"So what brings you in today," the doctor invariably asks.

"My wife," I invariably answer. 'Tis partially the truth, but Dagmar really doesn't tell me what to do very often, and if she does I often do the opposite anyway. So no, she's not a control freak or anything.

Quick Links

Red Stripe Beer - Go to the American side of the site. On the Jamaican beer's web site you can learn things like "In 1938 the light, golden, tasty Red Stripe we enjoy today is brewed by Paul Geddes and Bill Martindale. And the beautiful Jamaicans dance in the street." And, "1962 - Jamaica gains independence from Britain. Many Red Stripe beers are consumed." You can even watch their "Very Decent Commercials," which are actually quite decent. Funny indeed, even. It's hooray beer!

Talk Like a Pirate - Learn how to, well, talk like a pirate. I especially enjoy the "Ask Cap'n Slappy" column, found under "How to..." Try it. You'll like it.

W.C. Fields Quotes - Funny stuff! Anyone who complains that "some scoundrel uncorked my lunch" makes me laugh.

Bushisms - What the president done said. Fer example, "We've got to get us an energy plan." President Geroge Walker Bush uttered this during a speech in his SECOND term. Yay team!

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Aw shucks! It's gonna be one of THOSE weekends...

Sleep Easy, Ambien

"But I feel fine now," I protested this morning. "Look, I can walk, I can move both my arms, I can breathe, I feel fine."

"I talked to my mama," answered my Viennese bride, Dagmar. "She thinks you should go to the doctor."

"But I know exactly how I feel," I said. "Your mama is all the way across town! She doesn't know what's going on... I am NOT going to go to the doctor, and that's final!"

"You might have pleurisy," the doctor told me half an hour later. "Or maybe shingles. It's hard to tell. If it gets worse in the next day or two, call us." He went on to explain that shingles happens when the chicken pox virus left over from when we all had chicken pox as kids leaves it's dormancy along the spinal column and migrates along a nerve running from our spine around our lower ribcage. He said that sometimes you can see little spots in a line around your ribcage. I don't have that yet. "I'll give you a prescription for the pain," he concluded.

"Should he rest?" my vife asked the doctor.

"Sure, if he wants to," said the doctor. "Make sure he drinks a lot, too." That fit in perfectly with my plans - resting peacefully in a nice comfy bar drinking lots of fluids.

"I'm happy I feel better," I said to Dagmar as we walked back to the car after talking to the doctor. "I was worried that I might not be able to go see the band play at the Chesterfield club tonight. I've only seen one band play there since they opened three weeks ago. I'm really looking forward to it. I've been waiting all week to go out tonight..." I trailed off, noticing the look on my wife's face.

"You vill do no such ting!" she rumbled. "You are going to go home and drink apple juice and sleep! I vill not have you going out tonight."

"But you promised me last week that I could go out tonight," I protested. "I've been looking forward to this all week! I am NOT going to sit at home all day - I feel fine. I'm going to go outside, I'm going to visit people, I'm going to go see the band play. I am NOT going to sit around in my robe all day."

Actually, the robe is pretty comfortable. I looked "pleurisy" up on the Internet. I don't think it's serious. It's hard to tell, though, because there's a huge "Ambien" ad right smack-dab in the middle of the screen, right where it says if pleurisy is something to be worried about. I went to Ambien's web site and found my way through their maze to the "Contact Us" page, intending to write them an e-mail asking that they tell me what their ad was covering on the pleurisy web site, but they made it so difficult to write them an e-mail that I eventually gave up. I'm going to show them what I think by simply not using Ambien any more. (Tylenol P.M. works MUCH better anyway!)

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Miscellaneous December Thoughts

I'm Well-Rounded!

Geeze... I got up this morning, checked my e-mail and bathed as is my usual routine. I grabbed a pair of blue jeans fresh out of the dryer. I got 'em about halfway up and realized that there simply was no way I was going to fit into this pair. Chagrined, I trotted of to the bedroom to grab another pair. After a few minutes of wheezing and wiggling (which highly amused my cat) I admitted defeat. Looking at the label, I realized that this particular pair of britches happened to be several years old. Hmmm...

I reached for my "fat pants" - the pair my wife bought me by accident that's a size or two too big. I scrambled around and found my belt (under the bed) and put the jeans on. They fit perfectly. Uh-oh. I shrugged into my favorite T-shirt - it barely covered my belly. Hmmm... I put on my denim work-shirt. It, too, seemed to be riding rather high. No belt for me today.

How did I outgrow ALL my clothes overnight? Can that happen? Sheesh! I'm gonna go on a soup diet or something... Even my boots feel tight.

A Little-Known Fact...

Due to an odd combination of circumstances, it seems that 82-year-old republican Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska (famed for being named after the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport) is third in line to the presidency now. So, if United States President George Walker Bush and Vice President Richard Bruce "Dick" Cheney were both incapacitated, Mr. Stevens would be President.

This scares me. Though a decorated World War II veteran, Mr. Stevens has done several questionable things in the Senate as of late.

He and Alaska Congressman Don Young managed to get several hundred million dollars earmarked to build two bridges in Alaska (one of which was to be named "Don Young Way"). One of the bridges in question would link an island to the mainland - an island with a population of less than 50 people. The other bridge would cross a bay, making access to a little-used airport more convenient. The consensus is that these bridges are NOT worth the hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars they'd cost. When asked if he'd be willing to use the money to help with hurricane relief instead, Mr. Stevens actually barked "NO!" and threatened to quit the Senate "if the Senate decides to discriminate against our state..." As I've mentioned before, Alaska receives $1.89 in government money for every $1 in taxes they pay. Discrimination? Hmmm... Mr. Stevens has since seen the money for the bridges get removed from that particular bill, though, from what I understand, an equal amount of money is going to Alaska under a different name. Seems that Mr. Stevens is very good at getting money for Alaska (being, until recently, the head of the appropriations committee), unfortunately it's at the detriment of the nation as a whole. I wonder how long Alaska would survive as an independent nation if the United States went broke...?

The next questionable thing Mr. Stevens did was to rudely forbid the Senate from swearing oil executives to tell the truth during some hearings. So of course people now believe the oil executives did indeed lie about certain points of their testimony. Now some members of Senate wants to recall the executives and have the hearings all over again, at taxpayer expense. source

Mr. Stevens is now involved in chairing Senate hearings regarding indecency and violence on cable television. While I certainly understand why people are concerned about such issues (there's precious little on television these days that I don't find offensive, to be honest) I do NOT want people of Mr. Stevens' ilk mandating what we can and cannot see on television. While I do think stricter guidelines may be in order, I don't trust Mr. Stevens to be in charge of such things. Why is Mr. Stevens interested in this, anyway? It could be that he has been lampooned mercilessly by The Daily Show (on the Comedy Channel) for months now. (As a side note - if you've not seen The Daily Show, check it out. It's the most intelligent show on television these days. And it's unfortunately on one of the worst channels, in my opinion.)

All in all, I encourage everyone to do a little research on Mr. Ted Stevens. In my opinion he's at best dangerously misguided, and at worst a threat to our nation.

Pet Peeves Number 473, 474 & 475

Sioux City has a law that says a person will be fined if their sidewalk isn't shoveled within ten hours of the end of a snowfall. Fine - I have no problem with that. The law is there so that the mailman (or in our case the mailma'am) will be able to do their appointed rounds without hassle. Fine - I have no problem with that. But if I have to, by law, shovel my sidewalk for the mailman, shouldn't the mailman, by law, have to walk on my sidewalk? Why does ours always tromp through the middle of our yard, leaving an unsightly path through the snow? Dagmar and I aren't the kind of people who go tromping through other people's yards; in fact, we both feel it's common courtesy to stay on the sidewalk or path or walkway until invited otherwise. It's not our property, you see. We have our own house, and our own yard to walk in if we want. That's our property...

I feel it's an invasion of my privacy every time I see those big footsteps through the snow. Someone was walking on MY yard. I paid good money for that yard. It's not a very big yard, but it's the only yard I have, and I like it.

Last winter I wrote four or five e-mails to the United States Postal Service (USPS) trying to get them to tell our local guy to quit walking through my yard. I left notes in my mailbox saying, "Thank you for using the sidewalk instead of walking through my yard." Nothing worked. Eventually, last February or March the daily footprints ceased. I gloated a little... "I guess my letters to the USPS have finally worked," I said. My wife asked what I was burbling about, so I explained my dilemma, and that I'd written to the USPS... "You're going to make de nice mail guy valk all de vay around in de cold? Dat's not nice..." Then I felt guitly. I felt guilty all spring, and all summer. I felt guilty about it all fall. Then when it snowed, there were the footsteps again, and I STILL don't like them.

I don't like footsteps through my yard, and I don't like my neighbors parking in my driveway. Call my silly, but I think they should park in their own driveway. They have one, you know, they just haven't shoveled it yet. Not once in the past five winters has anyone shoveled that driveway. Yet the neighbors persist in parking in MY driveway, and have even cursed at Dagmar when she asked them to move their van in a rainstorm so Dagmar could park in our garage.

I don't like footsteps through my yard, I don't like my neighbors parking in my driveway, and I don't like eighteen-year-old clerks I've never met before calling me by my first name. When I was young, almost everyone I met had one of two first names - "Mister" and "Missus." Oddly enough, most people older than I still have those two first names, as far as I'm concerned. (Friends and relatives excepted.) I always kind of expected to be called "Mr. Radloff" at least once or twice by the time I got to this age. We never said, "yeah sure," it was always "yes sir."

Guess I'm getting old. Oh well.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005



Ever had a decision to make and waffled back and forth so long that you started feeling silly? That happens to me a lot... But I've been trying to make a certain decision for nigh on two weeks now, and I'm just now coming to the end stages of my internal struggle. I have completely and utterly made my mind up (for the third time). Now all I have to do is ask my vunderful Viennese vife what her opinion is... I shall be certain to post my decision here once it's finalized. Again.

Things to Think About...

It's been five years. Why hasn't our government found Osama bin Laden yet?

The Bush administration has spent billions of dollars on national security. Why, then, aren't we secure? The 9/11 Commission has recently (in the past few weeks) given our government a failing grade on this sort of thing. (As if we needed to be told, after watching our government's ineffectiveness during Katrina.)

Why is Haliburton still making money off the Iraq war?

Why is our vice-president still advocating torture? The United States of America is NOT supposed to be the first to abandon the Geneva Conventions. We are NOT that sort of nation.

Why are our children still being left behind? (I read in Readers' Digest this month that the United States is ranked 24th out of 28 nations in math. In science our 15-year-olds are tied with Latvia at number 24. Wonderful - Latvia has an education system as good as ours. We used to be able to be proud of our educational system.

Why do we have secret prisons in Europe? What are we hiding from ourselves?

Why are there still "detainees" at Guantanamo Bay? Why haven't they been processed yet? Why are we holding them in Cuba? Boy, I'd hate it if a bunch of, say, brainy Latvian soldiers invaded Iowa and took me off to a prison camp in Cuba and left me there for five years. Thank God we have the Geneva Conventions, and common decency. Oh, wait... (I know, I know. The people being held at Guantanamo Bay are accused of nasty crimes and terrorism. I have no problem picking them up and detaining them. But for FIVE YEARS? In Cuba? That's not good, folks. We're supposed to be Christians.)

Does anyone remember back in 2004 when United States President George Walker Bush was running for re-election? Remember all those rallies he had, with cheering people waving flags? Did you know that if the Bush people thought you may disagree with Mr. Bush, they banned you from attending the public meeting. Why haven't we heard more about that? There are lawsuits pending...

Remember Mr. Rumsfeld? Whatever happened to him. He's being awfully quiet. Someone had better go see what he's doing...

What happened to Tom DeLay, former republican bigwig? Last I heard he was in Texas... He was going to go to trial for conspiracy and money laundering, then he got the judge removed because the judge had contributed a couple hundred dollars to liberal causes and got a hand-picked conservative judge on the trial. Mr. DeLay is still going to trial. United States Vice President Richard Bruce "Dick" Cheney heard about this and promptly went to Texas and raised a bunch of money for Mr. DeLay's defense. (I don't know why Mr. Cheney had to get involved. Mr. DeLay probably could have tapped into his own funds. Or possibly had his friends help out. After all, Enron donated $28,000 to Mr. DeLay earlier in his career, and has given "DeLay-friendly" causes $133,000. What could be more DeLay-friendly than keeping him out of jail? source)

When did the government throw free speech out the window? Did you know that both the Bush administration and the armed forces have paid journalists and publications to write stories that are good for their cause? That's fine and dandy, IF you make sure everyone knows it's advertising. If you write advertising and let people think it's news, you're a fink in my opinion.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Oh, that worthless feeling...

It's Going Around, I Tell You...

So, last Tuesday I started having a fever. I gamely went to work Wednesday, and to rehearsal Wednesday night. I did stay home sick from work last Thursday, though. So did my beloved Viennese bride Dagmar. She'd gone to see the nice doctor lady, who told Dagmar that she had a sinus infection and a bronchial infection, and that the bronchial infection triggered an asthma attack. "But I don't have asthma," said Dagmar. "You do now," said the doctor. "Here, have an inhaler..." So Dagmar came home with loads of antibiotics and two different inhalers. She took her pills, huffed her inhaler and went to bed, only to have an allergic reaction to the inhaler.

Friday, both of us went to work. After work, I loaded up my basses in the car and off we went to the Chesterfield Friday Afternoon Social Club, where my happy band was playing. On our way there, the doctor called Dagmar. "I need you to come in again," said Mrs. Doctor Lady. So Dagmar dropped me off in parking lot of the club and made her way across town to the doctor's office.

About the time I had my amp, speakers and guitars all set up in a corner, Dagmar called. "I haf de influenza type 'A'," she wailed. "Now I haf to take MORE antibiotics..."

The gig went well last night, even though our keyboardist had prior engagements and couldn't make it, and both our guitarists were feeling ill. But I was happy to get home again.

Today I was going to go in to work to make up the lost day last week. However, it's now 6:26 p.m., and I've probably been awake for less than two hours all day. I just can't keep awake... My chest is feeling tight, I'm coughing more than I have since I quit smoking four-plus months ago, my muscles hurt... But I don't particularly fill ill, oddly enough. But my wife is taking something like two-and-a-half pounds of antibiotics a day. We're lucky the cat knows how to cook...

I feel completely and totally worthless. I needed to be at work today. I certainly hope tomorrow's better! If I can put in a good eight or ten hours at work I should be caught up, for the most part. (Thankfully the Packers are having a lousy season, so I know I won't miss much as far as football goes. I mean, really... They lost to the Vikings, for gosh sakes.)

Thursday, December 01, 2005


Winter, With a vengeance

Well, a few days ago, winter struck. There was no sneaking around this time. One week I'm riding my motorcycle, the next I'm shoveling snow. The last few days we've got quite a bit of snow, and a considerable amount of wind to contend with, too. Last night, though, was one of those pretty snows - big fluffy flakes falling straight down. We usually get the little itty-bitty stinging flakes that hit your face at thirty miles per hour... I thought big fluffly flakes only existed in the movies.

Decisions to Make

Last week I was approached by another Sioux City band who needs a bassist. "We know you already play with the Smokin' Clams," they said, "but do you think you'd be interested in playing with us when the Clams aren't playing?" That's a no-brainer... Of course I'd like to play with that particular band; they're one of the best in Sioux City, and they've long been my favorite band to watch myself. The problem is simple - would my schedule with the Clams allow me to be in two bands? Hmmm... (Quitting the Clams is, was, and never shall be an option - they've earned my trust and faith. The only way they're getting rid of me is to vote me off the island.) The Clams haven't played in quite a while, and there's nothing much on the schedule, and my billfold is nearly empty. Gosh, it'd be great to get out and play some more!

Off to the Clams rehearsal I go last night. I'd e-mailed everyone in the band already and told them what I was thinking, so it was no surprise to them when I said, "Hey, by the way, what's our schedule like? How often do we want to play? Everyone seems to be awfully busy with other things..." Turns out that almost everyone else in the band was wanting to play more often, too. So the Clams schedule is expanding rapidly, which makes me happy.

It's unfortunate that I can't play with the other band, as they're great people and play great music, but it just wouldn't be fair to join a second band only to tell them I could only play once a month. So tonight I get to call them and politely decline.

I feel very blessed and humbled to be in one of the most popular bands in the area, and have another top-notch band show interest in me! That's quite a compliment, and I'm humbled.

Sick Day

We went out for Dagmar's birthday a few days ago, and I came home with a 100+ degree temperature and a chill I haven't been able to shake. (So if my writing today is more incoherent than usual you can blame it on my fever...) "You're not going to get any better unless you stay home and sleep," said Dagmar this morning. "Your head is too hot and you keep shivering." So I've been in bed all morning, and will shortly be back snoozing again. It sucks to take a sick day (unpaid of course, my bosses don't believe in paying sick days) when you're really sick.

Sadly, I have yet another six inches of snow to deal with when I get out and about.

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