Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Trial by Fire!

About two years ago I wrote a story of a couple where the guy was a missionary working with a tribe in an unknown country, and the girl was English landed gentry, all at the turn of the century. They corresponded with each other through letters about life, which included Jonathon, the male, upsetting the tribal elders through his antics, and Emily, the girl, describing her myopic crookedness, scoliosis, and rather unconventional beauty. I finally got down to writing a second part where Jonathon is initiated into the tribe and conveys this back to Emily.

"My dearest Emily,
Young Archie and I were bathing in the river nearby the village when I felt a stabbing pain in my foot. I ran out of the water as fast I could, in a way that Archie later told me Jesus Christ would have been proud of my efforts. Once on terra firma, I saw that a fish had latched itself unto me, but I was unable to get the fiendish piscine off my foot.
I hobbled to the village directly. All the village were excited and began chanting in their native tongue. As was later told to me by our interpreter (I still haven't mastered the armpit squeaks that go with this language), catching a fish with your hands is a very good omen to these people. I pointed out to him that cursed had caught me! My interpreter shrugged and said that it was a good omen nonetheless.
After it was pried off of me, I examined it carefully. It's unlike any fish I've seen at the fishmongers in Kent or Sussex, or in this land, for its head makes up half of its body and its mouth is filled to the gills with teeth that would make a razor envious. I decided to keep the fish in a bucket outside of my tent to take back home to university to see if it's an unknown specimen.
Archie recommended a name for it after me: Jonathanicus imbecilus.
I expressed my feelings in the most gentlemanly way possible given the circumstances, and I directly shoved him into the river. At the end of the day, I reviewed my notes of what happened, and Archie seems to recall that I was bitten in a spot quite opposite from my foot. I confess, I have forgotten where I was bitten, only that it would have made poor Job cry.

Always yours,

Day 2

"Well, it seems I'm in a spot of luck. The village elders convened last night on my behalf and based largely on the type of fish I'd caught and the manner in which I caught it, they decided that the gods must've smiled favorably upon me and seen me as a man, ready to be entered into the tribe. But as any young man in the tribe, I must undergo 4 different rites in order to be recognized as a member in the elders' eyes. The rites are of a vision where you drink a cup of tea (which I must say I'm looking forward to, even though I've not seen any sort of tea plants around here), and the gods give you a message of power (This people are quite religious!). The second rite is a trial of endurance which wasn't fully explained to me, but thankfully the time I spent rowing for university still leaves me with a strong physical constitution. The third rite is of a battle to prove my worth in melee. Perhaps it will be similar to boxing. The final rite is of magic which I use the words of power that the gods should have endowed me with when I drank the tea.
I believe this is the most intimate any Englishman has ever been with these native peoples and I look forward to competing tomorrow morn.
Anxiously waiting,

Day 3

"For the first rite I was removed of my personal effects until a most embarrassed and pale state, save for a leaf that was covering up the part where Archie said the fish had gnawed me. I was given the tea by the village chief and the entire village crowded to watch me. I must say, these people have a funny notion of what tea is. Firstly, it was stone cold. Secondly, it was bitter and reminiscent of currants that were overripe. I gulped the concoction in one sitting which drew screams of concern from the villagers. Perhaps I was a bit too eager to have the tea, but I remember thinking, 'Ha ha! They know not to get between an Englishman and his cup!'
Archie was watching with fascination and I requested a tin of biscuits that I knew he had to get rid of the bilious taste in my mouth.
He complied.
Directly I took the biscuit from his hands, the biscuit grew in size, a face sprouted out of it, and limbs popped out from the sides. I gazed upon it, agog, and it saw me and yelled:
'Oy mate! Watchoo doin' 'ere?'
'I am searching for the words of power that will enable me to complete the rite of magic!'
'Oh, rites of magic, eh? Yeah, dat's sumfink, innit? All yeh gotter do is just scream "Erin go bragh!" at the top o' yer lungs, and do the ol' pulling your thumb away from your fist act! If that don' work, just cover yer face wif yer hands and make like yer breakin' yer nose. That always gets 'em!'
'Erin go bragh? But you're not even Irish!'
'Aw shaddup yeh git? 'Ow many times have you seen a talking biscuit? I've gotter go, but I'll see you around next time for some char.'

And with that, the biscuit slowly returned to its normal size sans limbs and visage. Cheeky little blighter.

I looked around and the villagers were ameliorated. The chief clicked his tongue and the second rite began. I was placed in a circle with jugs of water around me. The other man in the circle was massively muscled. I then knew that I would have to lift various jugs filled with water to complete this endurance rite. Imagine my surprise darling, when I found out that I was just required to drink all the water in the jugs without leaving the circle!

'Well, who gets to go first?' I cried. 'That's the point,' Archie yelled, 'you don't go at all.'

My eyes widened and I steeled my nerves. There was quite a bit of water around us two. This was going to be far more difficult than anything I imagined.

Endless gourds we imbibed, while the sweat cascaded, flowing down our backs and legs, whilst our stomachs were swollen with the water, sloshing, swishing, splashing. The other villager had enough after the 15th gourd. He burst from the circle and ran off with his legs tightly together. After a confirmation of my success from the chief, I soon ran off to the undergrowth in the same fashion.

The third rite began. Confidence poured from me and I sized up the person I was pitted against. The chief sneezed, signalling the start of the rite of battle. I proceeded to give the opponent the old 1-2. And he proceeded to give me the 3-4-5-6-7-8 and a few kick for good measure. It was after the 8th hook, that I'd noticed the world had gone rather queer and topsy-turvy, and for the first time in my life I'd noticed the Earth's rotation. I began fearing that the talking biscuit might return, but at that moment Archie helped me to my feet. He handed me a spear, and the chief called out that this round was to be won by the person who drew blood first. When the chief sneezed again, I threw my spear down and reached for the bucket I kept outside of my tent that contained that devil of a fish. I threw the bucket, water, and piscine at the warrior, where upon the fiend latched itself onto the same spot of the warrior as it had on me!
After the village helped the warrior to his feet, the chief saw the blood and declared me the victor. My final rite lay ahead. I grabbed the piscine by its tail and put it back into its bucket.

The rite of magic started in the dead of night around a fire. Jaguars could be heard caterwauling in the jungle, and various creepy things were crawling about. The village gathered around the fire, and the shaman appeared out of the smoke with his headdress on. He began by telling of all the demons he had summoned. The village 'Aaahed.' When it was my turn to tell of all the demons I'd summoned, I grabbed the fish out of the bucket, by its tail. The warrior from the third rite, who was in the circle, spoke up (through much pain) and declared that the fish was the worst demon of all.
The shaman then began crafting shapes out of smoke, creating jaguars, and men who battled each other. He then uttered several phrases and rose ten feet into the air! At this point in the trial, I was starting to miss Kent. But I screwed my courage to the sticking place and countered with "Erin Go Bragh!" and put my thumb in between my fist of my right hand, whilst letting my left thumb poke out of the fingers of my left hand. I simultaneously put my fists together and apart, giving the impression that I was removing my digit. The chief seemed pleased. The shaman looked irate.
He pointed to the fire and a jaguar arose that was completely of fire with black coals for its spots! I did what the talking biscuit told me to do, and start 'breaking' my nose to the delight of the villagers. The sound seemed to frighten the jaguar and it leapt back into its hellish home.
The shamen threw off his amulets and headdress and sulked away from the fire.

I had completed all the unspeakable rites (and a few unspeakable wrongs, as well) and endured the tests. I was a member of the tribe and recognized by the chief and the elders. The chief called me into his hut. I sat upon the floor and listened to his deep voice boom, "From now on, to this tribe you are Bantuku!"

The villagers let out a roar of laughter. I asked the interpreter what bantuku meant. He kept silent for a half-minute and spoke: 'It's a term of endearment for lovers...but in this case, since the chief does not wear his loincloth the wrong way, it's referring to its original meaning.'

'And that is?'

'Bantuku is the silly, young monkey who constantly stands on his head and makes faces at the other monkeys. Bantukus are pushed off trees and out of nests by its brothers and are always eaten by the jaguar.'


No matter. Whether I was a silly, young monkey with a penchant for standing on my head or a fully grown man in the tribe, the village accepted me as one of them and the festivities began.

After I'd eaten my fill of food and drink, I stumbled my way back to my tent and lay down upon my cot. I pondered all that had happened that day, and then noticed that my cot was rather damp. Sopping wet, actually. And that a slimy object was near my legs. A half-second later, my worst fears were confirmed when I felt teeth so sharp as to make a razor jealous, enter my flesh and clamp down with a formidable strength. I ran out of my tent, limbs flailing, to see young Archie grinning like a demon, until I managed to pull the watery fiend off.
I can stand a joke as good as the next Englishman, and I decided to thank Archibald for this humorous situation by attaching the fish as hard as I could to the part where the warrior and I had been bitten. Archie was seen attended to all the night by the shaman and the chief to much humor on his behalf, whilst I blissfully slumbered.

Until I see you Emily,
Your Dear [illegible, scratched out] BANTUKU!"

The Hypochondriac

Oh no! I overslept! Why didn't I sleep well? Maybe my sleep apnea was bad again last night. Let me check my CPAP, it's plugged in. Maybe I need a new mask. I need to shower and shave and get ready for work.
Oh God, there I go dropping the soap again. my toe swollen? Do I have the gout? I have been feeling a little under the weather lately, perhaps the gout would explain it. I better make an appointment with my doctor. Hang on, what's that spot? I don't remember seeing that spot on my skin before! Is it sun damage? Actinic keratosis? Basal cell carcinoma? Squamous cell carcinoma? Melanoma? Oh, it's a piece of lint.
Well, wasn't I lucky? I would've been in a spot of trouble had it been something serious.
Hmm, my armpits look a little bit swollen. Oh, I bet it's that aluminum chloride salt they use in the deodorants! What would a differential dx be? Cat Scratch Fever? Lymphatic Tuberculosis? Oh, it's got to be lymphatic tuberculosis! Why did I ever volunteer at the soup kitchen?
Well, great. My life's ruined now that I'm a carrier for tuberculosis. I just hope I don't get elephantitis. I might as well get to work; that should at least ease the pain of having this horrible debilitating disease.
I can't help but wonder what exactly is in all this pollution my car emits. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons? I just KNOW all of that is going into my lungs. Cigarette smoke too, because my stupid supervisor won't make my fellow workers move away from the building entrance when they're on their smoke break. The car's heat smells kind of funny. Why is that? MOLD! Oh Jesus! I better pull off the side of the road, roll down the windows and get started on anti-fungal therapy!
Well, I'm almost at work. I've already got lymphatic tuberculosis, I know that much. Why prolong the inevitable? Mycositis should be the least of my worries!
Ugh, I hate this part of work. Shaking hands never did anyone any good. Just think of where your hands go! Doors, noses, everywhere! What people don't like to talk about is that Typhoid Mary didn't spread the disease by being close to people, she actually spread it by shaking hands! Where did I put my gloves? Ah, here they are.
"Bob, how are you?"
"Uh, hi Kevin. You're not planning on examining me with the gloves on, are you?"
"What? Oh, no! Ha ha ha. I just don't want to catch anything from you!"
"Ha ha. Where's your mask?"
"Oh, it's right here along with sterile gauze."
"Geez, I was joking. I've gotta get back to work. And be careful of the coffee today. It's really hot, and we're all out of mugs."
"Ok, thanks Bob."
Gosh, Bob doesn't look well these days. What could it be? Diabetes Mellitus II? No, that pallor. It's probably anemia. Pernicious.
Eh, we've all got problems, but mine is the worst. Lymphatic tuberculosis! Gosh, I can't wait to tell my doctor. He'll probably congratulate me for being so smart and figuring it out all by myself just through my symptoms. Yeah.
If there's one thing I like about my job, it's getting the papers fresh off the printers. It's so hot that nothing can survive! Good, clean, sterile white. I like it. Ouch, that papercut stings. Wait, am I up to date on my tetanus booster? But bacteria can't survive the heat. What if tetanus is caused by a virus? Viruses can survive HEAT!
Gosh, lymphatic tuberculosis, mycositis, and now tetanus. Great, I feel so fatigued from all these maladies that I need some coffee. Sheesh, at least it's not like last week when I thought I had multiple sclerosis, glioblastoma multiforme (like Ted Kennedy), and HPV causing massive skin lesions like that guy I saw on television. It's a good thing I didn't have any of that stuff, but doggonit if I don't have these new illnesses. I just know that heart disease, a heart attack, cancer, stroke, car crash, the flu, or something else is going to get me in the end. I just know it.
Oh great, they're out of mugs! Well what do I do now? I can't drink out of that styrofoam! Who knows what heavy industrial manufacturing chemicals go into those things! I've requested paper cups time and time again. Sure, they might have sulfur in them, but I think I'd take my chances with that than with this 'cancer in a cup!' Maybe, maybe if I just put some milk and sugar in my mouth (wait, no sugar, it might make me insulin resistant...and no artificial sweetener either because it might give me bladder cancer) and just kind of pour the coffee in...
"What the hell is that? What happened? Kevin! Are you alright?"
"No I'm not alright! My oral cavity is completely burnt and I might need maxillofacial reconstructive surgery!"
"Geez, he is kind of swollen, we should probably take him to the hospital or something..."
"Yes! Yes, take me to the hospital! We'll have to take your car, Dora, mine's got a mold infestation."

Let's see, I'll need an fMRI, a CT scan, maybe a PET scan, and lots and lots of X-rays. By golly, we've got to get down to the source of my sickness.

"So, doctor, what exactly is wrong with Kevin?"
"Nothing's wrong with him, he's just burnt his mouth. He insists that he has tuberculosis, mycositis, and tetanus even though his lungs are clear, he doesn't have any TB antibodies in his blood, and he's received a tetanus vaccine a year ago."
"Oh, GOD, not again. Two years ago he effectively ended the office Christmas party by announcing that he might have liver cirrhosis and cancer after having the punch. He's always like this."
"Oh. Well, I'll see if I can talk to him, but you have to promise me that you'll never take him back to this floor or hospital again."
"I promise."

Oh, great. That doctor was talking to Dora for a long time. He's probably got bad news and is bracing her for it. Probably describing my tuberculosis, mycositis, and tetanus. Probably infected my entire body. Yeah, my jaw is getting kind of stiff right about now. Lungs hurt. Ohhhh, mortality of man. Well, I'll be strong. I've resigned myself to this fate. I just hope Dora is strong enough to take the diagnosis of my diseases. Here comes the doctor to tell me the bad news. *sigh* And life was so good!

"Mr. Smith, how are you?"
"Oh, not good, Dr. Li. Why don't you just go ahead and tell me the bad news?"
"Well, yes, I do have some bad news. You have cancer!"
"But, there is a silver lining to this cloud. It's a benign type, and it's extremely slow growing, but it might produce symptoms from time to time that manifest themselves in different ways."
"Like what?"
"Oh, general malaise, weakness, fatigue, productive and dry cough, postnasal drip, conjunctivitis, sore throat, diarrhea, constipation, itchy scalp, sinus infection, and possibly hearing loss."
"Gosh! This is amazing! How long do I have to live?"
"Well, I should say about 40-50 years with no apparent decline in health."
"Why that means I'll be...80 or 90!"
"That's right, but I wouldn't worry about telling your family about this. Best not to let them worry about it, since you'll be perfectly fine, even though you have this tumor growing in you."
"Oh, that's ok. I don't have a family. Too many germs!"
"Alright, well, I need to see another patient, but enjoy the rest of your life while you can, Mr. Smith!"
"Oh, I will, doctor, I will!"

"Dora, did you hear that I have cancer! What a relief! I guess this means I won't have to worry about getting dengue fever, or tropical parasites now that I have cancer!"
"Oh, no, that's awful Kevin! How long did the doctor give you to live?"
"40-50 years. It sounds pretty serious. I'm sure all the guys at the office will be broken up about it, so let's just let this be our little secret, ok?"
"Fine with me!"
Boy! Cancer! A rare type too! Wow. I have a strange feeling I won't need my CPAP machine tonight, and suddenly drinking from styrofoam cups doesn't seem like such a serious thing anymore. Gosh, cancer! What a relief!

Monday, August 25, 2008

A Breaking No Sh!t News Bulletin!

We've known that inhaling any kind of smoke (pollution, environmental, tobacco) is bad for a long time, yet scientists felt the need to dutifully remind us of this.
No shit!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

No Sh!t File Reopened

Johnson, file this under the No Shit File!

Monday, August 18, 2008

James Patterson

I started reading James Patterson's "2nd Chance" because I'd finished Michael Crichton's "A Case of Need." It started off okay, but the novel didn't grab me at all. Was it the characters that had no background except when needed? The way the reader (me) could tell what was going to happen, and yell out "You're not solving this right, ya moron!" or "Look out! It's a trap, dummy!" to no avail? Or just the way the writing style was flat?
Not to mention that annoying repetitious habit where Patterson would have people drop the first verb, article or word in a sentence which had me half expecting the entire novel to eventually read like: "DA called. Said, 'Claire, get ass down here! Murder! Bad! Now!' I hung up phone. Drove to the docks. It looked bad. Real bad. Talked to Jaboni, 'You get this?' 'No. You?' 'No. You gonna stay out here all night?' 'No.'"
Just think about the last time you had a conversation with a person who rarely used articles or pronouns. For me, this person didn't speak English as their native language, and so it seemed ridiculous to have people in the novel mangling their own native language and speak in a way that's a few steps up from a Cro-Magnon.
But overall the novel read out like Patterson wanted it to become a TV movie or something. Several times the main character apprehends a dude with advanced Parkinson's without backup, a cellphone, or kevlar. The first time, the guy escapes, but she comes out unscathed and looks back and wonders, "Boy, what was I thinking?" It's like Patterson's just trying to hype up the tension and make the main character forget any kind of cop protocol. Then the second time she apprehends the guy, she's with two partners, but she's not wearing any kind of kevlar or body armor. She gets grazed by a bullet and just thinks, "Boy, I was lucky!" Then to complete her death wish, she apprehends the Parkinson dude's son who is the main killer in the book despite not waiting for SWAT or getting her partner to go with her or taking any sort of body armor.
Overall, the novel was actually quite boring. It was lacking in details that really make up a story that's this short, and the dialogue was terrible, so that the entire thing read like a first draft.

One thing to say about Michael Crichton: he may not be the best writer, but he is a good writer. A perfect example is "A Case of Need" where a pathologist, John Berry, investigates a young socialite's death due to a faulty abortion in the town of Boston, after his fellow doctor and friend has been arrested for the death. The novel has a seedy feel to it; the pathologist discovers the town's been having a vibrant sex life resulting in a need for black market abortions performed on the sly by OB-GYN's, a burgeoning drug problem of the youth that ultimately contributed to the abortion being performed on the socialite, and all of this under the conservative Catholic stance of the townsfolk. And Crichton wrote this when he was just 26. Sheesh.
One thing that I did find interesting was that the novel had been made into a film (I wondered if it had been made into a film; Crichton's got a pretty good track record for novels into films) which starred James Coburn of all people as the pathologist. I'm pretty sure Crichton was just a nobody then and had no say in the direction the film took, but I'm also sure that his vision of Dr. John Berry was not of one who would slink into a room, take a drag off his cigarette, and drawl, "I heared there wuzz some trouble 'round these parts."

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Dara Torres

After watching Ryan Lochte, Michael Phelps and Ian Crocker compete in the Olympics tonight, I checked the news on and saw an article on Dara Torres. And that's when I realized that she's freaking 41 years old, had a baby less than a year before making the Olympic trials, and actually won the 50 and the 100 meters for the Olympic Trials. Impressive, I thought. 41 and she's still got it. Until I saw this picture.
And that's when I got suspicious. She's 41 years old and she smoked everyone at the Trials. And usually the USA leads overall world times in these events, so when she was smoking everyone at the Trials, she was effectively smoking all the women swimmers from all over the world. That's a lot of smoke.
But guess what? None of the other USA women swimmers look like that. Natalie Coughlin, Katie Hoff, Margret Hoelzer. They don't look that way at all. The fact that even Gary Hall, Jr who was 34 at this year's Trials only placed 4th on the 50M free in the men's, makes Torres's feat even more suspicious.
And she had a kid. All of this vaguely reminds me of another athlete who had a kid previous to going to the Games. Her name was Marion Jones and she was pretty old to be competing, but compete she did. And then she was kind of sort of implicated in BALCO and kind of sort of admitted that she hadn't been mostly clean for the games. And then she kind of sort of had to give back all the medals she won and kind of sort of had to serve jail time for illegal doping, perjury, and fraud. And then people started looking at younger pictures of Barry Bonds, and then comparing them to his ginormous head that he has now along with a ripped body that would've been the envy of a young Barry playing for the Pirates.
And then people realized that it's just kind of odd how more and more older athletes of all sports seem to be able to keep up with the younger guys, and increase their performance compared to their younger years.
So for a straightforward question: Is Dara doping?
More than likely for crying out loud. She broke an American record in the 50m just this year. And to think that all the 18-25 year olds just couldn't keep up with her is odd. She hasn't tested positive for anything despite rigorous testing, but a national teammate for the same event did pop a positive.
So what do I think? I think that Dara is doping, or at least went through a couple of cycles and started feeding her baby on formula. Afterall, she did put up Olympic qualifying times at a Master's meet which probably wouldn't be able to afford stringent drug tests, so she could've slipped by. I'm thinking that she started taking testosterone in cycles after she qualified for the Trials, or that she's taking a new type of drug that she knows there's no test for, or that she's taking in steroids and/or testosterone topically since it's slowly absorbed and quickly broken down. But I do have one last idea. She could be part man. I mean, c'mon. I wish I had arms like that! But hey, if East Germany and China could run doping programs respectively in the 70's and 90's, why can't a person do the same for just one more Olympics?

Copperhead Road

I got to pull weeds out of the azaleas and this time I managed to pull out the plants that my mother didn't want. There were only three clumps of bushes, perhaps the size of two double beds put side by side. However, there were so many weeds living in those bushes that it required 5 hours of effort on my part to de-weed the stupid things. When I was in the second bush, I found yet another copperhead (fortunately I found it before it struck my foot this time) by picking out its banded pattern from the ivy. I dispatched it while Sadie Mae the Beagle was still chasing her dumb ball, oblivious to the intruder, and barking as loud as she could while my nose was six inches from the red pinestraw. That makes the 4th? 5th? one of the summer. The third bush had a whole damn forest of vines growing in it. I discovered caterpillars, in the leaves, which emitted a green viscous substance and managed to bite through my left cotton glove. After I got through, I mentioned the caterpillars to my dad who said, "Oh no. They could eat all the leaves off the bushes." Perhaps if I'd given the caterpillars more time...

Monday, August 11, 2008

Black tea

Two infusions of a supposedly high grade Keemun from Southern Season. Strange, that a high grade according to them is only a wiry, orange pekoe and not a Finest Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe. Whatever. I knew they needed to hire me to set things straight. Unfortunately, the bale top jar that I put it in had some leftover lapsang souchong in it, so the tea has a smoky taste to it, but that doesn't really distract from the overall flavor. It does have a little bit of sweetness and a common Keemun flavor (of being a little bit flowery), but I can't really compare it to what I've had in the past because of the souchong's tea dust.

Sunday, August 10, 2008


So when I was putting my laundry in the utility room this morning I heard my mom coming down the stairs and fussing about the garage and its "clutter" to my dad. I ran out of the utility room and hid underneath the counter in the kitchen. She walked in, and walked over to the counter and saw me crouched down underneath the stools. All I could muster was "Oh. Hi mom," to which she responded (in typical mother fashion), "You're a jerk. A 22 year old jerk." Doesn't she know that I'll be choosing her nursing home when she gets elderly?

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Lung Ching and the Olympics

So I'm getting ready to watch the Olympics on TV and I decided to make some Lung Ching. Steeping time of 1:45 and a temperature of 160 yielded a very nutty, lightly sweet cup. Delicious!

The Bike

I did a 15 mile jaunt this morning on stiff and sore legs. Overall, I really liked it, but my main gripes are with the shifting system and the cages (but I knew I wasn't going to like them anyway). I was able to cruise comfortably at about 20MPH and the shifting with the rear derailleur was smooth. Not quite so much with the front derailleur. And the brakes had some cable stretch so they needed adjusting. The thing that really jumped out at me wasn't that it was light and fast, but the tires were completely different from the mountain bike I've been riding around. The only thing I wasn't crazy about was the pedals. You have to reach down to fasten the straps on the pedals in order to get more power throughout the stroke. But if you ride through the city and you have to stop quickly, you'll lose balance and fall over. I demonstrated this by falling on top of my car on the way back. Maybe when I get a job, I can save up enough money to buy a road bike. Someday...

Friday, August 8, 2008

Road Bike!

When I was dropping Lara off at her new home, I stared at the bike that was out on her back porch. 27 speed, and I wasn't about to touch it without anyone's permission. It looked like this
and it even with the lever type shifters on the down tube and straps on the pedals, instead of the more common shifting systems that are placed near the brakes on the handlebars and clip on pedals. I casually asked Katie, "How often does your roommate ride her bike?" "That's my bike! You can borrow it if you want to since Greenville isn't cyclist friendly. I bought it at some church sale for really cheap." Hallelujah! I proclaimed, here's a chance for me to try out a road bike. So I've planned a little outing for tomorrow morning to see what it's like. I'll update if I like the bike or not.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Family Emergency

So what my grandfather went for was a routine procedure to remove what was assumed to be a clot or small blockage in his arteries. What the doctor discovered was severely calcified arteries with severe blockage. He was soon scheduled for bypass surgery and the entire family (Durk included) waited in Wakemed's waiting room for 7 hours, waiting for the cardiothoracic surgeon to relay updates to us during surgery. He did fine and is currently convalescing as I write. But when he was first put into the CTSU, the surgeon dropped by to check on him. He came by and talked to us on one of our visits: "He was disoriented, which is to be expected, but I mean he was reciting poetry!"
Us: "Oh, good! That's good! That's exactly the thing he'd do after coming out of serious surgery!"
Surgeon: "Oh...huh...well, I'm going to go grab some coffee"

I'm sure the last thing that he expected to see was relief flit across our faces when he told us that our father and grandfather was reciting abstract poetry in the surgery ward, but then again we don't possess average genes. God I love my family.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Yard Sale

The yard sale at the Newell clan's residence commenced at 7AM this fine morn. But several ladies of the geriatric persuasion did not wish the yard sale to begin quite this late. So they showed up at 6:30 in the hopes of picking up some crocheted pillow cases and ugly porcelain dishes.
"*hoo* *hoo* Jewelry? Where's the jewelry?" one of these ladies requested, her breath ragged and short from the excitement of a sale. The sun had not yet fully risen and items hadn't been placed in the driveway, yet this woman knew what she wanted. As the morning went on, other people moseyed on down and bought a good portion of the purses, shoes, and jewelry that we had out. The marine equipment sold fairly well. Oil was in high demand, especially since one quart was going for $.50, along with the rope. "How much for the rope?...oh, it has an anchor attached," was muttered by 4 different people until one gentleman actually wanted the rope with an attached anchor. About half of the toys displayed sold, albeit later in the day. The one thing that nobody wanted was bags. Gym bags, leather bags, camera bags, a few would peer into them, look around, and shake their heads. "I don't freaking need a bag," they might say to themselves, or "This looks like my gym bag that was stolen."
But at the end of the day, the leftovers were taken to Goodwill and donated. And, as I rode my bike, I reflected on the happenings of the day. Specifically, the t-shirts of the day. 3 t-shirts stood out in my mind. The first I saw was worn by a stout woman. It was yellow cotton with black lettering and a black picture of everyman Chuck Norris with the meme, "Chuck Norris doesn't leave messages...he leaves warnings."
The second was donned by an elderly gentleman who had worn the shirt solely for the yardsale. It said, "You might say packrat, but I say collector!"
The third was very unusual and unique. But when I say unique, I really mean it was ugly as hell. Very unique. A white cotton t-shirt that was plain on the front, but on the back it had a picture of Bart Simpson stuck in between a large white woman's buttocks with a purple, flowing script above it that punned "Crack kills."
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