Monday, February 26, 2007

Monday YouTube

There is a serious dearth of hilarious, puzzle-based, character driven adventure games on the video game market these days. So, here's a blast from the past.


At work, I have been drafted to represent my unit in the State Hospital Chili Cook-Off next month. I'm pretty sure I was chosen for my competitiveness, for my rapport with the participating client, and so the other staff wouldn't have to do it.

I'm equally sure that I was not chosen based on my culinary abilities, as I have none.

So I turn to the Five Readers, and by the Five Readers, I mostly mean my friend Lis, who routinely blogs recipes. I need a good chili recipe. Really spicy, kicking chili, replete with Guatemalan Insanity Peppers, if possible. No wimpy brown sugary sweet chili need apply. Also, the participating client is allergic to mushrooms, regrettably, so a shroomless chili, as unfathomable a thought as it is to me, is going to be required.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Six Weird Things

I got pseudo-tagged for this via a comment from BerryBird, so I'll go ahead and oblige.

1. I do not own a mobile phone. I also have no desire to ever own a mobile phone. From an outsider's perspective, they appear to be highly annoying contraptions. If there is someone you do not want to talk to, they can still call you anytime they want, and you have to make an effort to ignore them. Then people say that I could turn it off, except that I feel that turning the phone off would be wasting money. Then they tell me it'd be handy in emergencies, but I feel that there are plenty of things that would be handy in emergencies that I do not feel the need to buy, such as a complete first aid and trauma kit complete with defribrillators. I find back-up plans to be much more cost effective.

2. I wear socks at all times. The only times I remove my socks are when I take a shower and when I change my socks. That's it. And in the shower, I wear flip flops. My bare feet do not touch the ground. Ever.

3. I might be affected by medication and drugs more drastically than anyone I know. The first time I took an Advil, my entire face went numb. The first time I took NyQuil, I slept for 19 solid hours. Antibiotics always seem to cause really bizarre, freaky dreams. As a kid, I always got really carsick anytime we went somewhere, and Dramamine would knock me out for the entire day. For awhile, I thought non-drowsy Dramamine II was the best thing anyone ever made. My new inhaler for my asthma gives me a headrush that leaves a pounding headache. The result of all this is that I do no drugs outside of caffeine unless I absolutely have to. No alcohol, no cigarettes, no pot, and very very little medication, simply because I hate the drastic effects they have on me.

4. My best friend who has known me since high school just called, and I asked him what the weirdest thing about me is, and he said that I 'glide' rather than walk. I asked for specifics, and he just said it was sort of like a Kramer thing when I enter a room. I can also say that during my sophomore year of college, while I was home on Christmas break, I was walking around the Promenade in Richmond and a friend I hadn't seen since high school recognized me from a couple blocks away from behind despite the fact that I was bundled up from head to toe, simply by my walk, so I guess I have a Walk. And you can tell by the way I use my Walk that I'm a woman's man, no time to talk.

5. I regularly have days where I forget to eat. I'll start feeling weak, my head will start hurting, and it will only be after I consider going to bed that I remember that I'm probably starving to death.

6. I have no accomplishments that I'm particularly proud of.

As for tagging people, I frequently point out that my blog only has five readers (Casey, Lis, Susie, Audra, BerryBird). Audra doesn't have a blog, so Casey, Lis, and Susie, consider yourselves tagged. And Audra, I expect an email from you.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

My Personal House of Glass

Anyone who likes either Avril Lavigne or Sk8er Boi who was offended by that last post should remember that the following cds appear in my collection:

Ace of Base, The Sign
Hootie and the Blowfish, Cracked Rear View
Andrew W.K., I Get Wet
Duran Duran, Greatest Hits
Meat Loaf, Bat Out of Hell
The Essential Neil Diamond

Also, while I've never made a "Top Ten Pop Songs From the 90s" list, I'm guessing if I did, "I Want It That Way" by the Backstreet Boys would make the cut. Not in the top 5, of course, but I think it'd slip in one of the bottom slots.

That should be plenty of ammo for anyone whose music sensibilities I've offended.

Friday, February 23, 2007

I'm Just a H8er Boi

Talking about my problems with people usually does not make me feel better about them. I generally ruminate enough to come up with a wide variety of thoughts on them rather than single-mindedly obsessing about one particular aspect.

Making fun of people I've never met, however, generally does the trick, so that's what I'm going to do right now.

That said, if you are a fan of Avril Lavigne, or on the off chance that you ARE Avril Lavigne, I suggest reading something else.

On my way to work today I heard Avril Lavigne's "Sk8er Boi" on the radio. I never change the radio station when I hear this song, even though I reflexively turn the station anytime any other Avril Lavigne song comes on. I guess this one bothers me less because it's replaces her ordinarily whiny lyrics with utterly inane ones. I think I listen to it to see if I find it dumber than I did last time I heard it. I always do.

He was a boy, she was a girl
Can i make it any more obvious?
Two things here: 1. Unless you're suggesting that every girl and every boy desire to sleep with each other, yes. 2. This is the first time Avril states that she doesn't need to say anything else, but then continues singing anyway.

He was a punk, she did ballet
What more can i say?
Well, for starters, you might try working on your qualifications for deciding what makes people a 'punk', there, Avril. Just sayin. And again, I'm thinking you're going to say more anyway.

He wanted her, She'd never tell
Secretly she wanted him as well
But all of her friends stuck up their nose
They had a problem with his baggy clothes
Damned baggy clothes-ists. Also, I'm not positive, but I think this was the exact plot of "From Justin to Kelly".

He was a sk8er boi. She said 'see you later boy.'
This clever line never gets old. Never.

He wasn't good enough for her
She had a pretty face, but her head was up in space
She needed to come back down to earth...
Oh man, a cliffhanger. Will she finally shred her baggy pants prejudice and love him for the sk8er boi he truly is?

5 years from now, she sits at home
Feeding the baby she's all alone
In my experience, the beautiful, preppy kids whose parents can afford ballet lessons for their children always end up being poor white trash. Well, at least a solid 9/10 times.

She turns on tv. Guess who she sees
Sk8er Boi rockin up MTV
Wait, what? If he's Sk8er Boi, which I'm half convinced is his given name by now, shouldn't he be on the X-Games on ESPN 8, the Ocho? How did Sk8er Boi grow up to become the Guitar Man? Is Mr. Tambourine his percussionist?

She calls up her friends. They already know,
And they've all get tickets to see his show
Wait, what? I thought she was the one who liked him and her friends all hated him; why were they the ones following Sk8er Boi's career? The plot twists in this song are totally blowing my mind.

She tags along; stands in the crowd
Looks up at the man that she turned down
Tags along? She fell hard. Not even her friends want her around. I'm not making fun of the second part because "Looks up at the man that she turned down" is actually a halfway decent song lyric. Blind squirrel, meet acorn.

He was a sk8er boi. She said 'see you later boy.'
Blind squirrel, meet rock gravel.

He wasn't good enough for her.
Now he's a super star, slamming on his guitar.
Does your pretty face see what he's worth?
We see with our eyes, not our faces. How about "Do your pretty eyes see what he's worth?" instead? I realize this critique is somewhat like a doctor telling a terminally ill cancer patient that his poor posture might lead to back problems in his old age, but I felt I should point out that even the least offensive stanza has an easily observed problem.

Sorry girl but you missed out
Well tough luck that boy's mine now
These lines are much funnier if you sing them in a deep Evil Movie Villain voice. "The Sk8r Boi shall be all MINE! Muahahahahaha"

We are more than just good friends
This is how the story ends
So the song's over then, right? Right?

Too bad that you couldn't see,
See the man that boy could be
There is more that meets the eye
I see the soul that is inside
Right, forgot. Gotta have a moral at the end: "Underneath every baggy exterior lies a sensitive soul." Where was Aesop on that one? So, song's over now, right? Right?

He's just a boy, and Im just a girl
Can I make it any more obvious?
We are in love. Haven't you heard
How we rock each others world?
Yes. Yes I have heard. In the previous verse. And in the bridge. And in the chorus. I had heard quite frequently. And I have the feeling I'm going to hear it again soon.

I'm with the Sk8er Boi. I said 'see you later boy.'
Wait, what? I thought you were with him. Why are you saying 'see you later boy'? Are you dumping the poor Sk8er Boi because he's gone too commercial when it used to be about the sk8ing? Or did you just fail to come up with an equally lame lyric that actually makes sense in the context of the song, like maybe "I'm with the Sk8er Boi, 'cause he's not a H8er Boi!"?

I'll be back stage after the show
I'll be at the studio singing the song we wrote
About a girl he used to know...
And now you're stalking him? Or are you like Yoko Ono and trying to break up the band? Or maybe she's going all Fight Club on us and she actually is both the pretty ballet dancer from high school and the singer, and the song is a dark reflection of her tortured soul. I don't know. Truly, there are few songs that raise as many disturbing questions as Sk8er Boi, first and foremost being "Why didn't I just change the channel?" closely followed by "Why does 'Sk8er' have an 'e' in it? That's totally an unnecessary keystroke."

Ok, I feel better already.

Contrary to what the last post suggests...

You Are Kermit

Hi, ho! Lovable and friendly, you get along well with everyone you know.
You're a big thinker, and sometimes you over think life's problems.
Don't worry - everyone know's it's not easy being green.
Just remember, time's fun when you're having flies!

It leaves out that while everyone likes Kermit, he's not really anyone's favorite Muppet. Except mine.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Close to my soul, and yet so far away

For a couple of weeks, I thought I was going to miss February this year. As February began, the Colts were in the Super Bowl, so it didn't feel like February. Then the Colts went on and won the Super Bowl, so that helped delay February for a while longer. Then we got two lovely and delightful winter storms within a few days of each other, and the cold weather held up for a week afterwards. Snow always lifts my spirits, and we had experienced none up until then, so I was finally satisfied with my winter (although a couple more snowstorms wouldn't hurt either).

But now the high from my favorite team of 15 years finally winning a championship has subsided, and the depressing February mild weather has set in. Rain storms are frequent enough to be miserable, but haven't succeeded in melting the huge mountains of snow the plows put on the edges of the streets. These mounds are bereft of any beauty the snow had previously exhibited, and just remind me of how happy I was a week ago, which just highlights my utter lack of happiness at this moment.

And now, I'm remembering exactly why February is the most depressing month of the year.

My depression isn't remotely serious. All of my depressive episodes are highly ephemeral, and the causes are very mild, garden variety things that everyone gets depressed about at some point in his or her life: crappy jobs, problematic relationships, a complete lack of relationships, few friends, etc. I won't go into details about what's eating me other than to say that I think I can do much more than my current position requires but can't seem to find a niche where I'm needed, my ex-girlfriend, after treating me with complete immaturity and disrespect, is in a happy relationship while the results Yahoo! Personals sends me suggests that there is no one within 100 miles that I would enjoy dating and it bothers me that I quietly resent her for it, and my apartment is such a mess that I can't imagine why anyone would want to hang out with me anyway. At least one of these problems appears to be easily solved.

The true point of this post is to share my natural thought processes during these occasional down periods, because I don't seem to meet many people who respond to depression quite the same way I do. I do not have thoughts of self-harm. I do not feel the need to eat more or abuse any form of drug. Instead, my knee-jerk reaction is to run, figuratively and literally. While I could still breathe while exercising, I would run when I got feeling bad, and it always cheered me up. As that option has been cruelly taken from me, my depression has risen. Now, I get a very strong case of wanderlust. The target of my move has always been someplace rather remote and freezing. I once had a dream I was moving to Billings, MT. I once searched for jobs in Fairbanks, AK. In college, I openly wondered what moving to Oslo would require.

Those are just examples of what I think, though. I'm unable to describe the exact feeling behind it. Luckily, the Great Gonzo can do it for me:

This looks familiar, vaguely familiar,
Almost unreal, yet, it's too soon to feel yet.
Close to my soul, and yet so far away.
I'm going to go back there someday.

Sun rises, night falls, sometimes the sky calls.
Is that a song there, and do I belong there?
I've never been there, but I know the way.
I'm going to go back there someday.

Come and go with me, it's more fun to share,
We'll both be completely at home in midair.
We're flyin', not walkin', on featherless wings.
We can hold onto love like invisible strings.

There's not a word yet for old friends who've just met.
Part heaven, part space, or have I found my place?
You can just visit, but I plan to stay.
I'm going to go back there someday.
I'm going to go back there someday.

Everytime I get depressed, I become more convinced that I don't belong here. I usually convince myself that I'd be the same anywhere, that my depression is caused internally, and a change of scenery would be a temporary fix at best. I'm not sure of that now.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Rubber Ducky, You're the One

You Are Ernie

Playful and childlike, you are everyone's favorite friend - even if your goofy antics get annoying at times.

You are usually feeling: Amused - you are very easily entertained

You are famous for: Always making people smile. From your silly songs to your wild pranks, you keep things fun.

How you life your life: With ease. Life is only difficult when your friends won't play with you!

Seriously, do my goofy antics get annoying sometimes?

Monday, February 19, 2007

Presidents' Day YouTube

The penultimate stanza of this song has been edited. The original was

Now in Washington, DC
There's Democrats and the GOP
But the one in charge is plain to see
It's Clinton, first name Hillary.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

One More

Today is my friend Audra's birthday. During my early college years, I talked to new people on AIM all the time. My plan was to make new friends all over the country so I'd never have to stay in a hotel when I traveled. Pretty smart, until I realized that not only did I never travel and that it'd be a huge inconvenience for everyone, but people online are typically as dull as people in real life.

Audra is the only person I met online from that era I still talk to regularly. She lives in Regina, Saskatchewan, and she's also the reason I'm single. You see, she happens to be smart, funny, dorky in my kind of way, and very attractive, and has thus caused me to not date anyone unless they can rise to the Audra Standard.

So, a big Happy Birthday to my longtime friend/surrogate significant other Audra.

Friday, February 16, 2007

This is Actually a Post Within a Post

***The following paragraphs have practically nothing to do with the matter I want to discuss, and can be replaced with "I went to the doctor today, and was stuck in Richmond for three hours with nothing to do," if you want to get straight to the point and don't want to listen to random thoughts on my doctor visit.***

I went to the doctor today, and he confirmed that I am, in fact, asthmatic, except he went ahead and did a breathing test on me to show me that, contrary to what I've been telling myself for years, my asthma isn't exercise-induced. Apparently, most people are able to take really deep breaths without violently coughing afterwards. Who knew?

The breathing test showed that my lungs operate at 81% capacity, and I was told that they should operate at 100%. I probably could have figured that part out on my own. The end result of this is that my inhaler is now once per day in addition to as needed. This rather sucks.

I found this doctor through my dad, mainly because I did not want to go to the incompetent Dr. Vet School Dropout who's office is a block away from my apartment. This doctor operates in an office a good 40 minutes away from my apartment, but I feel it's worth the drive. The extra fun part is that he has his mission statement posted all over his waiting room, and it reads "My ideal medical practice is one that embraces the scientific methods and achievements of the West without ignoring ancient healing traditions from other cultures." I'm hoping I can get my lungs moxibusted next time I'm there. But seriously, I think he's really good thus far.

None of this has anything to do with the post I intended on writing. I just mentioned the doctor because my appointment ended at 11:30, and I have to work at 2:30, and didn't want to drive an hour round trip to go home for two hours, so I stayed in Richmond and looked for ways to kill three hours' time.

***Those of you who skipped may now rejoin the rest of us***

So I was stuck in Richmond with nothing to do for three hours, and decided to go shopping for a Tom Petty cd that I don't already own. There are only three: "Hard Promises", "Long After Dark" (which is the album Petty is least proud of), and "Southern Accents". These cds are tricky to find because the only tracks that get any radio play now from these albums are "The Waiting", "Don't Come Around Here No More", and very rarely "You Got Lucky". Since they aren't old enough to be 'classic' albums, they have yet to be remastered, apparently. My only hope, therefore, was Side 1 Music, a nice music store with very informed staff that always make me feel like a loser with bad taste.

I didn't find any of my Petty albums, despite the staff's eagerness to help me out. Instead, I ended up perusing their random mishmash of used CDs and purchased three for a very acceptable price. The problem is that every time I buy cds, I wonder what I'm revealing about my personality, tastes, and general level of culture. I could never be a music store clerk because I would silently analyze and judge everyone who bought cds on my shift. Here are the cds I purchased today:

1. K's Choice, "Paradise In Me". I know absolutely nothing about this album or even the band, but I liked the song "I'm Not An Addict" from Wild Things. I was 16 when Wild Things came out in theaters, and I can safely say that there was no heterosexual 16 year old male that did not make an effort to see it. Verdict: I like boobs.

2. James, "Whiplash". I've never met anyone outside of my extended family who has ever heard of this band until I introduced it to them. I think they're quite popular in England, though. I used to have a tape of this album, but I lost it at some point, or it was eaten, and when I saw this album, I considered it a miracle that it was even there. It took me about a third of a second to grab it. Verdict: I like snooty music you've never heard of.

3. Duran Duran, "Greatest Hits". I'm not sure why, but it's always seemed to me that Duran Duran was a band that you are just not supposed to like. People have to like them. You can't get through an all-request 80s radio show without having them requested. But still, it's always with a scoff, like, "Hey, it's Duran Duran. They're always good for a laugh. I remember when people liked that type of music," and if you say, "But I still do," you get "heh, I bet you like 'Hey Mickey' too." "No, no, Duran Duran is nothing like 'Hey Mickey'," I protest, but it's futile. What's so inherently wrong with Duran Duran that I feel a stygma attached to them? Verdict: I like crappy music everyone makes fun of.

So clearly, I'm a mystery when it comes to music. A mystery who likes boobs.

(I have been listening to K's Choice for the entirety of this post. They are rather brooding, and Belgian. And I don't understand what some of their lyrics mean. They're ok in my book.)

The Devil Does Not Play Here

...because I have had no idle hands recently. I've been keeping busy with spending time with a friend who has been in serious need of a friend to spend time with, work, cleaning my apartment, work, evading the bank's shock troops they send out when I park my car in their nicely plowed lot, and other mishaps.

This is all a shame, because I had a nice list of posts that may never be written now. Instead, my faithful readers will be treated to a Bulleted List of Unwritten Posts:

1. A post about my apparently unpopular opinion of Disturbed's live sets. This post would've included a Venn Diagram and me admitting humiliating things, starting with the fact that I've seen Disturbed not once, but twice in concert.

2. A post about my unpopular opinion of the presidency of Abraham Lincoln. I think he sucked and set a number of bad precedents.

3. A post about my unpopular opinion on unpopular opinions. I think they're usually unpopular for the simple reason that they're wrong. Except for my unpopular opinions, of course.

4. A post about how asthma has made me a better basketball player. This post probably wouldn't have been very good, but I still find it interesting, and this is my blog, not yours, you ingrates.

5. A post apologizing for that post.

Instead, I'm just going to write one post for today in addition to this bulleted list, and it probably won't be very good. Bulleted lists are penance for sporadic bloggers.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Monday Morning YouTube

One thing about YouTube that I love is that I get to see clips from shows that I loved as a kid that I thought were gone forever. There are far too many prepositional phrases in that sentence, but I'm too tired to correct it. Please ignore any misplaced modifiers until I get a chance to wake up and edit this one.

Anyway, on to the video:

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Further Adventures in Dental Hygiene

I have purchased a new tube of toothpaste. It's Crest Whitening Expressions Lemon Ice. It cost a little more than I usual pay for toothpaste, but I didn't hesitate this time because after a week of using the Ultrabrite, I would've paid ten dollars for a tube of good toothpaste. Also, it had a scratch n' sniff sticker on the box to let potential customers know how it smells. If there are people in this world who can resist scratch n' sniff stickers, I haven't met them.

Naturally, after I bought the stuff Thursday night, I had to run right home and try it, and now that I've had it a full day, I can say with confidence that using this toothpaste feels like I am brushing my teeth with the filling from a Krispy Kreme Lemon Filled doughnut. I worked in a gas station and had access to all the free doughnuts I wanted once, so I know the sensation well. The gel-like texture is the same, the flavor is the same, except instead of rotting my teeth out, it cleans and strengthens them instead. Best. Toothpaste. Ever.

Friday, February 9, 2007

A Therapeutic Environment

Scene: Shift report, Nurses' Office, 2:30 pm.

Nurse: It's been rough today. The patients are all agitated, and that got the staff agitated and on edge, and for a while it was hard to tell who was the patient and who was the staff.

Scene: Outside the Nurses' Station, 45 min. later.

Patient: H-h-h-h-h-h-hey Andy! Do-doin' alright?
Andy: Well, not really.
Patient: Wh-wh-wh-wh-wh-wh what's wrong?
Andy: [Patient A] was yelling at me, then [Patient B] started yelling at me, and then [Patient C] started yelling at me. Everybody's yelling at me today.
Patient: Nnn-nn-nn-n-n-nn no, I'm not gonna yell at you.
Andy: Well, I appreciate that.
Patient: I llllike you. You're n-n-n-nice.
Andy: Thanks, [patient].
Patient: Y-y-y-you're w-w-welcome, welcome. I like you.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

There's a switch

Things went much better at work yesterday, so I'm going to change my tone from talking about very serious problems with my job to not at all serious problems with my life. A good time shall be had by all.

1. I'm out of toothpaste, sort of. I once bought a tube of Ultrabrite toothpaste because it was only 50 cents or something, so I figured it was worth a try. It wasn't. Ultrabrite is more like actual paste than toothpaste. Anyway, after brushing my teeth about three days with it, at which point it clogged up my drain, I decided to go buy some Crest and save the Ultrabrite for only the most dire, dire emergencies. Since then, I've been very good about buying real toothpaste when it's on sale, but I find myself out now, and have been using the Ultrabrite. This is compounded by the fact that in the year that it's been sitting in my medicine cabinet, the Ultrabrite toothpaste has glued itself into its tube and will not come out. I have squeezed that tube with both hands as hard as I can and still can't break it. The past three nights I've been thinking, "Is it better to brush with Ultrabrite or just wait until I have real toothpaste?" I err on the side of hygiene, but the thought is there.

2. I have no hot water, sort of. In normal circumstances, my water takes about 10 minutes to heat up, at which point it gets very hot and serviceable for a shower. Now, my water takes about 10 minutes to get lukewarm, and then five minutes later will become ice cold again. In that five minutes, I get in the shower and bathe as quickly as possible before I get frozen out again. It's the least relaxing way to get clean ever. This has also made me obsessive compulsive about my hair, as it always feels dirty now since I'm in and out. I feel the need to wash my hair about 8 times a day. If I could harness that into the need to clean my apartment just once a week, I'd be doing a lot better.

3. There's a heat lamp in my bathroom, sort of. I've never tried it before today, but as my water was cold and the apartment was cold, I thought maybe I could use it to warm up my bathroom and at least get a little bit of heat. It didn't work. I cranked it up, it emitted some horrible noise and a terrible smell of something burning that I initially pinned to "animal carcass." I think if I had left it on, I would've caused an electrical fire.

So, anyone who sees me in real life, please forgive me if I seem a little less hygienic than usual.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Not Monday Morning YouTube

Oops. Forgot in all of the excitement of the Colts winning the Super Bowl.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Worse Than Expected

Sorry, I've got kind of a downer of a post today.

Today was my first day back after my run-in with a patient on Saturday, as I wisely called in sick on Sunday and had Monday off anyway. I would be lying if I said that I was not at all apprehensive about stepping back onto the unit. It's weird to feel nervous about going to work, wondering how my still very visible battle wounds are going to affect my patients' temperaments and if my mere presence is going to cause conflicts.

I slept in a lot later than I thought I would, and when I woke up, I noticed it was snowing quite heavily. This made me happy. I love snow. I love winter. 20 minutes later I came to the realization that my car now had its first winter driving test, and it failed miserably.

(Digression: Who in the world actually likes long cars? They suck way too much gas, are difficult to park, and much, much more difficult to control on a slick road when turning. Is there an advantage to them outside of legroom that I'm failing to see? I drive a 1995 Dodge Intrepid because it was all I could afford to buy at the time, and I routinely rue the fact that it's so honking big that it's awkward to park it most anywhere. Anyway, my car slides a lot during turns. A lot. I'm not used to this in the slightest, and joined the 360 club after getting off of the interstate on my way home. Then a giganto truck had the nerve to tailgate me on an icy road for the entirety of my trip. How close was he following me? Close enough that his headlights actually outshone mine. Who does that? But back to the story.)

There was apparently some form of accident on 70, as I got stuck on the highway long enough that I was 15 minutes late to work despite the fact that I left 10 minutes earlier than usual, and I usually get to work about 6 minutes ahead of time. My coworkers were relieved to see me, as they thought I was simply calling in again or worse, just not showing. However, I was stressed from my drive, which was also complicated by snowflakes turning to ice as soon as they hit my windshield, making it impossible to see out of and impossible to clear once the ice attached itself to the wipers in addition to the sliding, icy conditions and the stopped traffic, and was thus unable to deal with that beloved patient standby, the bum rush.

"H-h-h-h-hey Andy. How's it g-g-goin?"
"Hey, Andy, can you tell Ruth I have privileges now and let me out?"
"HI DAVID ANDY! Is that Jerry Jarvis? Am I being good? Come 'ere and tell me what's for lunch today!"
"Can I have some gum, Andy?"
"Hey whatsyername, can I get my snack? I didn't get my snack!"

On a normal day, this would've been easily manageable simply by saying, "Guys, I've got to get the shift report. I can talk to you after we get out," and they'll dissipate. Today I had no such luxury, since shift report was over, and couldn't get away. Plus, very few were receptive to my evasive techniques, and I absolutely had to find out what was going on with the patient that attacked us on Saturday and if any of the other patients were reacting to him. As a result, I had a very difficult time getting the patients to leave me alone for long enough to get this information, and the tone of my day was set with me trying to get away and being unable to.

As it turned out, the violent patient was not at all better and still causing serious problems. Multiple codes had been called to get him under control the previous day, and he had been threatening to attack a few of the evening shift staff all weekend, myself included. As a result, he was on one-to-one precaution for protection of others, and I would be sitting with him on my own for an hour.

It was bad. Really bad. He was looking for a fight, but he's not dumb enough to go after staff. For that matter, he's not dumb enough to go after his peers. When he wants to fight, he wants to be sure that he doesn't throw the first punch so he can claim he's defending himself. What he did do was threaten and intimidate and insult any patient around that he thought would respond violently to him, and when I went to stop him, he turned around and threatened violence against me. This is not particularly scary, as it's just a method to get attention, and as I said, he's not dumb enough to actually attack staff. He wanted me to come after him, and when I didn't, he ratcheted up his obnoxiousness by knocking over the laundry cart, taking all of the magazines from the common room, and demanding that everyone watch what he wants, in hopes that staff would call a code or try to take him down. And every hour, he had a different staff to irritate, always trying to goad staff into crossing a line.

Not only was this exhausting, but it also made all of the other patients, especially the more excitable ones, angry and edgy. From after dinner to bedtime, there was no downtime on the unit, just constant movement from one patient to another to de-escalate them. It was a losing battle, but we managed to stop all of the major conflicts.

After work, our evening shift staff all worked together to dig out our cars, and then left as a group. I am fortunate enough to work with an excellent staff, but everyone on my shift has an application in to work elsewhere. In a couple months, I may be the only one left on the unit with a bunch of rookies, and I only have four months in myself. This, also, is a bummer.

And now I'm home. My apartment is a messy wreck, even worse than usual, but I don't have the energy to do anything but sit in front of a screen and veg out, either surfing the internets or playing a game.

And from the looks of it, tomorrow will be much the same.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Another reason to cheer for the Colts today

"Pain heals. Chicks dig scars. Glory lasts forever."

I love my job. This has probably been surmised by the five readers of this space. I enjoy interacting with my patients, and I get a real feeling of self-realization when I help them find their way out of ruts they've lived in their entire lives. My co-workers are amusing and helpful.

That said, there's a good reason there are always plenty of openings. My job is dangerous, and if nothing else is routinely disgusting. The disgusting bits don't bother me so much; nothing hand sanitizer and soap and water won't take care of.

But today I had a run-in with the more dangerous parts of my job:

I walked into a bad situation at work today, and as one of only two male staff on the scene, was on the front lines when it turned violent. In addition to the scratch on my face, I suffered some form of knee injury. I can support my weight on the bad knee, but I can't lift myself. Standing on one foot is easy; climbing the stairs to my apartment proved Herculean.

(The Ice Pack. The LPN wrote "Andy From my 1st boo boo. 2/3/07") The worst part of the whole thing, though, was the way the other patients looked at me. Part of it was out of concern, because I'm a well-liked staff member and almost always the "good cop", but there was another aspect to it, a fear that the staff would not be able to protect them. That uneasiness was difficult. A new admit, an autistic patient who has bonded with me, was extremely upset about it, and wanted to know exactly who hurt me, and how I started bleeding. I'm not convinced he's letting it go, and that worries me for him, my coworkers, and the patient that attacked us. Two other staff were involved; one received a minor nick on her finger, and the other got rug burns on his knee. (Have fun explaining that one to the girlfriend, Jerry.)

And now I have a choice. I have sick time. If my knee is not in serviceable condition tomorrow, I can call in. Except that it's Super Bowl Sunday, and the Colts are playing, and the hospital is going to be dangerously short-staffed anyway. If I call in, Jerry will be the only male attendant on our ward, and it's hard telling what the fallout from this will be. On the other hand, I will not be any help, and part of me feels that if I'm around the patient that became aggressive tomorrow, the situation will be worse. He told a female staff that he's very upset about what happened to me, but he will not be able to tell me that because the whole thing was just him acting out to show us how tough he is, and being sorry for the person he hurt, even if he didn't want to hurt him, will undermine his stance. That disjoint might cause him to act out more.

So I'm a little conflicted. Dad recommends that I call in. No one on the unit expects me to be there tomorrow. But I will feel bad if I leave them high and dry. The guilt; the guilt.

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Harry Potter and the Naked Horse God

Daniel Radcliffe is starring in Equus, apparently. I only mention it because the next time I see a scene in a Harry Potter movie where Harry is sprinting somewhere while holding his wand, I'm going to say, "He should be careful running with that thing, or he might put an eye out." You've been warned.

I should also add that Equus was required reading for all Fall Semester sophomores at Wabash. As such, we had enough Equus jokes to last us for months.

The Divination Standby

My horoscope is inexcusably awful today. It's like the stars aren't even trying. Quoth Yahoo!'s personal astrologer:

"Your day will be somewhat dictated by the whims of someone who is in authority."

This horoscope sucks on many different levels:

1. Well, duh. An authority figure will tell me what to do? What other bits of advice do you have for me, Zodiac? The amount of daylight hours will be somewhat dictated by the temporal distance from the summer solstice?

2. What sort of action am I supposed to take now that I possess this crucial bit of information? I thought the point of knowing your future was to plan accordingly. I am just as helpless now as I was before I read it.

3. I understand that horoscopes have to be vague by nature; if it said "At precisely 5:33 EST you will receive a call bearing bad news about your career, but this can be avoided if you ask to do a job no one else wants," and nothing happened, or it was my day off, then the whole credibility of the practice could be called into question. But still, this one doesn't even bother to specify if the whims are good or bad. In fact, it doesn't even say that I'm going to be told what to do. Just "somewhat dictated" by the whims of authority.

So after I read this, instead of just saying "How the hell can anyone take astrology seriously?" like everyone else on the planet, I think to myself, "I could write a better horoscope than this. Surely Yahoo! could afford to hire an actual writer." And after 10 seconds of brainstorming I came up with:

Sagittarius: The powers that be may feel the need to rein you in. An acquiescence on your part, even if it is only temporary, may be the best course of action.

Here's why this is a much better horoscope:

1. Excitement. "Powers that be" "rein you in" "course of action". These are exciting, dramatic phrases that lead people to believe that their lives are much more important than they actually are, which is priority one for any horoscope.

2. Good advice. The message of this horoscope boils down to "Hey stupid. Do what your boss tells you to." Following this horoscope will likely lead to continued employment.

3. Vague, but applicable. What was I thinking of when I read this? The fact that I've been pulled over 4 times in the past five days for a missing head lamp. Perhaps making an appointment to get that fixed would be wise.

4. Vocab words. Do you feel smarter? I do. Because no one wants their horoscope to insult their intelligence.

This led me to believe that perhaps my true calling is "astrologer", but then I choked when I realized that writing horoscopes would require thinking up 12 such lines, plus a birthday forecast, every day for eternity without repeating. How could one go a week at this without running out of ideas? Would you have to go back and check all of your archives to make sure you didn't accidentally forecast death and destruction for Libras for seven straight days? How do actual horoscope writers deal with this sort of thing without becoming overtly snide or otherwise compromising the Very Serious tone that horoscopes are written in?

And then it occurred to me. Good horoscope writers would have to have a system to make sure they didn't get tedious with their predictions. They'd have to have some pre-determined method for chosing to forecast about love, work, friendships, or personal accomplishment, with good or bad implications, and with warnings or suggestions. The idea that horoscopes might actually be the result of an intricate and arbitrary system independent of the intricate and arbitrary system that it's supposed to be representing fills me with some strange sort of satisfaction, somehow. Does this merit further study? Perhaps.

Glorious Sound

I bought new speakers, which caused one of my computer's sound drivers to fail. Troubleshooting told me to uninstall it, and then reinstall it. After I uninstalled it, my computer restarted itself, and then I had sound. I have no idea how or why this course of events unfolded, but it did.

Now if I hadn't lost all of my mp3 files of dubious origin, I'd have something to listen to.

Friday, February 2, 2007

And I'm back.

I have a new computer now, thanks entirely to my dad. How shall I repay him? By making fun of him while telling the story on the internets. I can get away with this because I'm Dad's favorite by at least a few lengths. If you want to argue this, fine, but be aware that I was the only one to call or visit when he broke his back, and not only did I visit, I shoveled his driveway after the blizzard hit.

Anyway, the story. When my computer had a meltdown and refused to start-up, when ScanDisk assured me that my hard drive was irreparably destroyed by an Adobe Macromedia Flash Player update, I did the only thing I knew to do: go see my computer nerd dad for confirmation of this fact. Dad instinctively told me to bring it down into the basement, which is a veritable inner-sanctum of nerdosity.

After descending the stairs, the visitor is greeted by a gigantic table with a dungeon maze put together on it. Pewter miniatures may or may not be in the middle of roaming it, depending on whether my dad and his friends finished their previous game. On the bookshelves around the main room are about 35 years' worth of Dungeons and Dragons adventure packs and modules.

If D&D isn't your style of nerdness, then you can take a quick left and find my dad's giganto-huge collection of old war boardgames in their original shrink-wrap. As the frontrunner for the position of favorite, when dad finally keels over, I'll get first choice of the games. Those copies of "Broadsides and Boarding Parties" shall be mine, I tell you. Happily, there's a copy of "Hero Quest" for each of his 6 children.

Moving on, we come to the Lab. Dad has made himself a test lab, where he has spent the past week building his new computer from raw parts. He is quite proud of himself. The Lab is fully stocked with a static free placemat to put the computer on, a grounding bracelet which ensures no rogue static electricity will fry computer circuits, and a test monitor, mouse, and keyboard so the computer can be instantly tested for functionality.

Just beyond the Lab we find a whole lot of exercise equipment that probably never got used. That treadmill will be mine someday too.

Dad plugged my computer into the Lab and quickly confirmed that yes, my computer was dead and I hope there wasn't anything on your hard drive you wanted to keep. My hard drive was mostly filled with illegally downloaded MP3s from college that I kept telling myself I should just delete anyway, old Nintendo ROMs (which should really expose me as the hypocrite I am for making fun of my dad's nerdiness), and pictures. The pictures upset me a little bit, but most of them were pictures of me with my first ex-girlfriend AJ, and it's probably best to let those go anyway. So, no, outside of the odd document that I started and never finished, nothing of much value was lost.

So how did I end up with a computer so quickly? My dad has a computer network so he and his friends can take a break from slaying orcs in the basement by slaying each other over a LAN wargame of some kind. I mentioned my dad recently built a new computer from the ground up. This machine was to be added to the three computers already in his room, but that required a massive reorganization of the computer room, and when the dust cleared, it was obvious to all that three was the maximum number of computers that would fit in the room. As such, the fourth computer had no place, and was given to me. My new computer is my dad's fourth-stringer, and it's still over twice as powerful as my old one, which I got when I went to school in the fall of 2000. It is a 1.67 ghz Athlon machine, and I'm rather pleased with it thus far. I don't have sound yet, though, and I could use a DVD-ROM if I'm going to fulfill my genetic code and play nerdy computer games. Expect a return trip to the Lab in the near future to iron out these kinks.

Also, I leave the internets for three days, and when I return Molly Ivins and Barbaro are both dead. My old computer travels with a rather interesting karass.