Friday, March 30, 2007

My Left Foot…is broken

I’m nearly 38-year-old and ever have I broken a bone in my body…until now.

A week ago I stepped out of my boy alcove. The alcove is set off of the basement, is smaller than a standard-sized room and came as an after thought when making my screened-in porch. About the size of a jail cell, it’s carpeted, insulated, and is decorated with all of my classic rock albums that I no longer play. It houses my musical instruments, a computer, and a small fridge full of miscellaneous beers, sodas, and ½-full bottles of water. If I could mix in a lifetime supply peanuts, it would be pretty much everything that any man needs to survive.

So I stepped out of the alcove onto the basement floor, about an 18-inch drop. Instead of landing on the bottom of my foot, I landed on my ankle. All of you engineers start doing the math: One man at 265 pounds drops 18 inches at a standard rate onto one ankle. This pretty much equals disaster. I screamed as if someone had shot my testicles with a nail gun. The pain was intense, the worst I’ve ever experienced, and the kind that makes you want to toss chow. I started sweating instantly, and by the time I made it upstairs my shirt was soaked. Such a wonderful way to kick off my five-day vacation.

It took me a week before I made a trip to the doctor, although my wife told me I should go after day three of double-wide, purple foot. The first thing that the nurse said was, “oh, ouch”. Thank you for that expert diagnosis.

Dr. M twisted it, turned it and then had it x-rayed. The funny thing was, it really didn’t hurt that much when walking or during the aforementioned twisting and turning.

I didn’t see anything on the x-ray, but I knew something was amiss when Dr. M said to himself, “hmmm, I think I missed that,” while he stood there staring at the bones. He came over, pinpointed a particular location on my ankle, and as all doctors do so well, pushed while asking if it hurt. “Yeouwouchess”, I said. The sweat glands kicked into overtime instantly.

And then the words came, the words I have avoided throughout years of football, mountain biking, hiking, climbing, boating and all the other things that adrenalin junkies do to keep from being bored. “Yep, you fractured it,” he said.

The worst part is that I get no broken bone trophy. It’s not really bad enough to cast because the bone isn’t out of place, but it’s bad enough to use crutches for a month. I have to keep it wrapped in an Ace, keep it elevated, and ice it. I also have to do all the rehab, but I get no cast. From the first time I saw a friend with a cast during my childhood years, I wanted a broken bone because I wanted a cast that everyone could sign. I though it was so cool. But alas, I have strong bones. I guess it’s from all the milk. So, I get no cast but I get all the crappy stuff like ice, rehab, and crutches.

The photo is my foot 10 days after the injury. It’s still looks icky.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Marijuana Has Ruined My Life. Huh?

…um, oh yeah, now I remember.

The Federal Government has been classifying for a good long time the evil weed as something akin to crack, meth, and heroin.


Yes, poppycock, I say.

Recreational drug use is not good. Some might modify this statement by clarifying with the word, “never”; others might say, “Extensive use of”. I’m sticking with the evidence that shows most any foreign substance abused over a period of time is probably detrimental to living a longer, healthier life and/or personal attitudes and relationships. I lump other items into my categorical statement, items such as McDonald’s, gasoline, and pornography. Still others include spelunking, under-water welding, and anything that allows your body to move faster than bipedal speed.

I’ll just come right out and admit it. I tried pot, once. I quickly figured out that the leaves get stuck in your teeth, the taste is unappealing, and it really doesn’t do much for you. From that point on I stuck to smoking it.

The Nancy Regan firestorm from the early eighties pounded into my head the detriments of saying yes. I answered in the affirmative despite the facts. I did it in high school, college and after. Through extensive research, my findings show that there are far worse things to abuse that fall within legal limits. Alcohol and tobacco are certainly in that list. Yes, I’ve used both. Legally prescribed painkillers, amphetamines, and anti-anxiety drugs are a far bigger problem than sharing a bowl with the boys on Friday night.

Pull out a piece of paper because you're about to make two lists. The first list is one with the names of people you know with a marijuana addiction, the other a list of people you know with some other addiction.

Now, search the Internet to find as many news stories as you possibly can that include something like, "Authorities say this person robbed/raped/fought/killed/over dosed/struggled with or ran from police/caused personal injury to himself and others/wrecked the car/...because he was high on marijuana and/or needed money to fuel his marijuana addiction". Now, same search again except use alcohol or prescription drug X or street drug X in place of marijuana.

Did it just get brighter in here?

Marijuana, however, is listed via federal government statutes as well into the red area of things that will KILL, KILL, KILL. As such, the purposely imposed social stigma gives people a false sense of reality as it pertains to use of alcohol and tobacco.

At times, tobacco farmers/manufacturers receive subsidies that support the growth of the tobacco industry. Tow-back-ee can be taxed, ya know. Taxation is the very idea that lead to the ban on marijuana by making it illegal to grow and then making it illegal to sell without a tax stamp. Additional regulations followed to classify the drug as such to impose a ban on all research…in the USA.

According to the AP, a study out of London shows (not necessarily proves) that alcohol and tobacco might actually be more harmful to you than an occasional spliff, or a spliff-a-day for that matter.

New "landmark" research finds that alcohol and tobacco are more dangerous than some illegal drugs like marijuana or Ecstasy and should be classified as such in legal systems, according to a new British study.

In research published Friday in The Lancet magazine, Professor David Nutt of Britain's Bristol University and colleagues proposed a new framework for the classification of harmful substances, based on the actual risks posed to society. Their ranking listed alcohol and tobacco among the top 10 most dangerous substances.

Heroin and cocaine were ranked most dangerous, followed by barbiturates and street methadone. Alcohol was the fifth-most harmful drug and tobacco the ninth most harmful. Cannabis came in 11th, and near the bottom of the list was Ecstasy. --Full article on MSNBC

Here is the deal in case you don't know. Pot makes you, shall I say, slightly lethargic. When high, it often becomes much more fun to play Xbox than work. To this I say that if you can’t motivate yourself to get off the couch after getting high, don’t get f*ckin’ high, dumbass. If you can’t remember to go to the grocery store after you get high, don’t get high before you go.

Don’t give me that crap about marijuana addiction. I was a head with the best of them. Merely wishing that you had a quarter-bag does not classify as a withdraw symptom, so suck it up and go to work. (Side note: Grocery shopping high is never a good idea unless you want to come home with $200 worth of Soft Batch Cookies and Little Debbie snacky cakes.)

So, is pot a gateway drug? I think that it can be. However, I think the frequency and berth of that gate is substantially increased by poor parenting as opposed to a hookah-toting teen. Do I advocate smoking pot? I certainly do not. Do I care if you do? Absolutely not -IF- you’re a responsible adult and you’re not harming/neglecting anyone. Keep in mind that harm to others comes in many forms.

Has smoking pot ruined my life or my career? Well, I woke up this morning. I’m a college grad, and I hold a professional position that I really enjoy. I’m a daddy, a father, a Christian, and trusted friend to numerous others. People tend to seek my advice and respect my opinions. I do, however, tend to lock the keys in my car from time to time. If that’s a life ruined, well, maybe I should just find the code to my keyless entry—if I can just remember where I hid it.

Whatchew Think?

Monday, March 19, 2007

Because of You, Your Opinion Counts

A resident blogger claimed early Monday morning opinions based solely on the thoughts residing throughout his brain. Now, local authorities are in a desperate search for answers and they need your help.

According to the Old Brain thought police, the blogger known as BuckeyeTimmy brazenly broke into the spinal column while on his way to an undisclosed location this morning. They say that he had one blog in his thoughts. Midway through his journey, these thoughts had multiplied. Authorities say that by the time he made his way to Old Brain, more than three ideas were being held captive.

“Yep, I seen’em,” said one bystander whose shriveling form looked as if he’d lived a life in the Pleasure Center. “I was stopped at Old Brain General pickin’ up some hunting equipment and searching for new shelter. All of a sudden I heard this loud rumbling noise. It kinda sounded like a synaptic transfer was in my back yard. Then I saw a big ol’ group of ideas run past me uh screamin’ and uh cryin’. I thought they just needed the loved of another human, which happens a lot down here in Old Brain, ya know. But then there was this guy behind them. I swore he had tiny little balls of different colors comin’ right out of his head.”

Authorities believe two more captives were taken by the time BuckeyeTimmy arrived at Frontal Lobes. This is where they believe he is hold-up. They say that he impulsively barricaded himself behind a rash of judges, linguists, and puzzle masters whose offices are adjacent to Department of Socialization and Spontaneity.

Taking advantage of their exceptional skills in planning and coordination, authorities came up with a plan to entice the confused blogger into submission by offering a complimentary lifetime subscription to cable pay-per-view. According to an anonymous source within the department, authorities were “confident that the result of their meticulous planning would result in the best possible outcome”. After substantial run-throughs, authorities executed the plan, which was promptly thwarted by the blogger’s eccentric actions.

According to one eyewitness, the renegade blogger noticed the nearly unperceivable movements of the police, stood up, and with spear in hand started chanting, “I AM THALAMUS, I CONTROL THE DOPE. I AM THALAMUS, I CONTROL THE DOPE.”

Frighten by these schizophrenic-like actions, authorities broke plan and proceeded to rendezvous point Old Brain General in search of their mommies. This is when one team member produced a ransom note that he found lying on the ground outside the Department of Socialization and Spontaneity. The note read: _______________________________________________________________________________________________
Dear Thought Police,

Although I am thalamus and the controller of the dope, I feel slightly confused. The ideas that I have captive are driving me crazy with useless arguments and infighting. Each wants his or her place, and each wants to be first in line. If you wouldn’t mind, I would greatly appreciate your thoughts (pun intended..teehee…teehee) on which opinion should be written next. Options are:

1) Mr. A Life Ruined by Marijuana - Huh?
2) Mrs. My New Blogging Obsession
3) Mr. Hey, Hey I Wanna Be A Rock Star
4) Ms. I Want Answers
5) Mrs. Logic and Christianity

Help me Old Brain Police. You’re my only hope.

Kind Regards,
God of Thunder and Rock-n-Ro-a-ollll (Formerly known as Thalamus the Dope Controller)

Authorities have again surrounded the sense-of-self deprived blogger and are waiting for your comments.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Mr. Semi-Fixit

Home ownership has its advantages: This is my house! Gooney Goo Goo! And that, my friends, is where it stops.

I can’t blame it all on Mother Nature and the process of aging. After all, I did use my money (sorry, P…our money) to buy the house. It was our choice. We also decided to live in a historic district, a term that implies upscale, antique, and character. Implications and true meaning are two different subjects. The term, historic district, gets its roots from real estate marketing. After all, it would be difficult to sell a home if you described it as “really f*cking old”.

“This home right here is a gem. It’s a really f*cking old house in a really f*cking old neighborhood. The plumbing is really f*cking old as is the electrical wiring. The neighbors are really f*cking old and their really f*cking old dog craps in your yard when he escapes from their really f*cking old fence.”

Tip to college freshmen majoring in marketing: Really f*cking old = bad description.

Never the less, this is my house~! Gooney Goo Goo!

There is, however, one more advantage to owning a really f*cking old house. You get to join the League of Persons with Less than Adequate Superpowers. (grob/ted 2006) My true identity comes to life only in times of professional work, marriage and fatherhood. On the weekends I become (dunt taa-daa-daa) Mr. Semi-Fixit.

I have the ability to fix anything to the point of barely running. I can build anything that stands solidly non-square and cover it with enough trim as to not notice. I can rewire without grounding and have the ability to repair plumbing while leaving only a few minor leaks.

No, I cannot fly, but my Super Tool Belt is a Home Depot of paintable caulking, quarter round and latex paint. I can hammer where I should screw and shim to the point of immobile. Brute force is the underlying might of my super powers.

So think of me, my greater-ability fixit friends, when you are laboring through the details of proper measurements and square corners. I have already finished my project and moved on to the next one in my really f*cking old house.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Where Man, Is Law

<--Man Law Music. Please Play While Reading The Church of the Golden Teapot was what I might consider a big hit, which means that someone other than me read it. I fully intend to follow up on the subject some time in the near future. But for now, my virgin blogger fingers simply can’t help but leech a clique – MAN LAW. Being a man, a husband and a father, I believe that I have met all criteria that allow me the right to make man law.

Man Law # 74 – Done and Done
There are two types: those that IM for a fact-based purpose and those that chat. Sometimes the former turns toward the latter. Rarely does the latter turn former. In either case, one party usually, for whatever reason, wants to quit chatting before the other.

Man Law #74 allows a man to simply type DONE (all caps) without worry or fear that the other man will take personally. This will eliminate the Gotta-run, Have-meeting excuses and will also cut down on man lying to man. This rule only applies when one man is chatting with another man. Don’t try it with a woman. They don’t understand man law. At recognition of said ending statement, no further IM will be typed until the beginning of the next conversation. The next conversation must be at least 15 minutes into the future. There is an exception for emergencies.

Man Law #87 – The Left Lane
This law enhances the standard driving practice of the left lane being the faster lane. In order to show male driving superiority, all men must recognize and follow the mantra of the left lane being not simply another lane, but a lane made for faster drivers.

Title 1) Should one man come from behind another (in a car, gaywad), the one moving slower must submit to the one moving faster.

Title 2) Unless you are passing, you must remain in the right-hand lane.

Title 3) Flashing of lights is not permitted if you are coming from behind another man. Please reference parenthetical statement in Title 1.

There is a motion on the table. Do I have a second?

(Editor note: Blogger claims the right to use the term, gaywad, as a non-defamatory remark based on friendships with the gays)

Friday, March 9, 2007

The Church of the Golden Teapot

What is it about God that frightens non-Christian people?

WAIT….Before I go any further, I’m going to predict that my brothers and sisters in Christ are going to smile and appreciate this post. My non-Christian friends are going to think I’ve completely been brainwashed and have gone over the edge. Whatever—to both groups. I write to think, and not to spark opinion of others. (But go ahead and comment. That’s the most amusing part of blogging, ya know.)

“Why did [God] let Hitler kill all the Jews? He sounds like a big co*k to me.”

“He lets ONLY those who believe in him be saved? What happens to the other people in the world? Sounds like an a**hole.”

These are two of many such comments that came from the lips of one of my close friends. Another referred to my belief in my Savior as no different than someone worshiping a small golden teapot that revolves around Mars. You can't see this teapot. You just have to have faith that it's there, and that it will "fix" that which is broken or needed. The Church of the Golden Teapot quickly became the new name of said religion.

Now, some people might get upset at such comments, possibly even a few in the bar area of the restaurant in which we were sitting as evident by one of GROBs subdivision neighbors (or some similar relationship) commenting on the acoustic level of his rant. As for me, I respect his agnostic opinion. He has every right to question anything he wishes, but I’m certainly not going to tackle the Hitler question—or anything similar. Why won’t I? It’s simple; I have no idea.

Lets get one thing straight; I’m not one to spout scripture or give reason to seemingly unanswerable questions. I did, however, offer to explain how God works in my life and how my faith has helped my family and me get back on track. I could have given the It’s-God’s-will answer, but that would have been akin to me kicking him squa in da nuts, mmmkay.

And there is another thing. I consider GROB a great friend. He stuck beside me through some hard times in my life, and I pray for him during the hard times in his. He is also one of the funniest MFers I’ve ever known. Our differing beliefs will never deter me from our friendship.

Circling back to the question at hand, GROB is one to investigate and/or challenge everything; it’s in the nature of both our souls. But he chooses to judge the Christian belief versus investigating it. As he once told me, his attitude regarding Christianity is based on a childhood question he asked of his pastor. At age 10, he asked what becomes of non-Christians when they die. The pastor’s response made him turn away from the church and shun any further teaching of the Word of God.

Why is he (or others) afraid to go to church, listen, learn, and then form an opinion using adult rational? I want to know what it is that frightens non-believers out of the slightest consideration of attending anything with the word church as even a small descriptor of event XXXXX?

Just because you attend church doesn’t make you a Christian. It’s not that simple. The people from my church pressure no one to change/invent their faith, ever. The leaders of my church are educators of Christianity. They are Christians, too. It’s kinda like FOX; they teach and let you decide. There is no pressure from the congregation to “change your evil ways”. They are good people who love, and teach, and support. If you choose not to listen, fine. If you choose to argue a point, fine. There will be no judgment. And you’re still welcome to come to our services, meetings, family events, groups, trips, BBQs, or whatever. There is no “C” tattooed on anyone. No one questions why YOU are here. They’re just glad you could come, and then they will invite you back. I simply don’t understand from where all the fear comes.

The photo above is something that I made the day after GROB and I had our discussion. I did it to illustrate just how wrong I believe GROB’s opinion to be…And before you comment on how hypocritical I am because you believe that I am judging someone, try to remember that there is a difference between respecting an opinion and believing that it's misguided.

~Click the photo to make it bigger. It's certainly worth it.~

Monday, March 5, 2007

Multimedia, Charter Communications, and the Planet of the Apes

I spent a huge portion of my weekend attempting to turn my home into a multimedia environment the likes of which might be seen at Disney World.

It took me about a half-day to realize that I don’t have the uber billions that Mickey and friends enjoy. What I do have, however, are two LCD TVs, one with a digital tuner and one without. I have two computers that, for all geek intents and purposes, are slighty dated, and one stand-by computer worthy of nothing more than surfing the most. I also have another 13" LCD monitor for which I paid vast sums of money three years ago.

The goals are few but complicated. I want to be able to store and control in one main location all media—photos, movies, wireless, audio, and net access. A hub, if you will. I also want to be able to:

1) Control all of it from any location (any station)
2) Stream movie and audio playback from the main hub.
3) Utilize each station as a TV and a computer
4) Use each station as a DVR to record HD or SD programming

I pretty much have it all figured out, except for the recording of HD programming. This is because 1) I’m cheap and don’t want to give the cable company any more money for renting of their damn boxes. (I have one box and I know that I can make it all work with that box) and 2) Purchasing the right digital video card for my computer is a bit complicated to get exactly what I need.

Issue two would be easily solved if issue one didn’t exist. It’s technical, so I won’t get into it. But when it comes right down to it, it’s the principle of the thing. I despise Charter Communications and their nickel-and-dime strategy to rape you of anything that they can. $5 a month for digital access and $3 a month for digital service – my ass! What the heck is that? $7 a month for HD service, $3 a month for HD access, $10 a month for an HD box, and $4 a month for any extra digital (not HD) boxes. HD boxes would be another $7 a month…or something like that. I think you know what I’m saying.

So my goal is to beat them at their own game, legally. Doing it illegally really isn’t a challenge to me any longer and that’s not who I want to be. Stealing, although risky, is simple, cheap and efficient. Doing it legally is a whole other battle. It’s much more expensive, probably more expensive than renting the equipment from Charter, at least in the short run. And the short run is rule in the world of technology. But again, it’s the principle, and the challenge. Besides that, I’ll own my equipment versus giving my money to Satan incarnate.

When I told my wife about it, she balked. It’s probably because she wants a flat LCD in the bedroom, and that’s all she wants. It makes no difference to her if I can play a movie on the TV upstairs when in all reality it’s playing on the computer downstairs. She just wants it to work every time without pushing eight buttons, turning three knobs, and adjusting this RCA input so that it fits into that coax outlet.

And I tend to agree, which is yet another reason why it’s taking such a long time and so much research. I’m making it so that all you have to do is click here to see photos, click here to see movies, click here to listen to music or click here to watch TV. (Sounds remarkably like a Charter Communications HD box, eh).

(I’m feeling slightly mad-scientist-ish right now.)

Better because I’ll make it work myself and won’t have to pay nickel and dime fees.

So here is the kicker. The whole reason that I put myself on this rampage of technology research and store hopping from Circuit City, to Best Buy, to Comp USA and back is simple, some might say foolish. But not to me.

My daughter wanted to watch a DVD on Saturday. Neither of my cheap DVD players work on my cheap and arcane TV. However, I had the movie downstairs on my computer hard drive as a backup. But she wanted to watch it in the bedroom. I got frustrated because I couldn’t give her what she wanted, and because I couldn’t make my POS DVD player work.


Muuaahhhh. I will win.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Death of a Rittmanite

My dad died yesterday. Well, he died yesterday plus 27 years. I’ve spent the last 27 years of my life without a father, which, one would believe, has had a great deal of influence over who I am today.

Saturday, March 1, 1980, 7:30 p.m. at the Cleveland Clinic. I was at home with granny. We were watching the Muppets during that time, Paul Williams, I think. I was 10-years-old. Tiny, my dad, was 40.

Rewind approx. 10 months.

I was sitting in the upstairs hallway of our house. Bedroom doors were closed because I was throwing with the mustered strength of a mighty 10-year-old a bouncy ball that you get in the vending machine. The doors were closed so I could see how many times I could get the ball to ricochet before hitting the carpet. Dad was taking a bath. We didn’t have a shower, ya know. Mom came upstairs as my father said, “JC come look at this lump”. Why did I hear that? Why is this so vivid a memory when my normal brain function often balks at remembering to comb my hair?

Blur…blur….random memory of dad in the hospital…blur…blur…memory of the Cleveland Clinic smelling funny, but they had an ice cream machine in the cafeteria…blur..blur…dad at home, unable to eat, and getting sick while trying. He cried.

Blur…blur…back at the Cleveland Clinic, dad had a pretty cool roommate who talked to me…blur...Dad choking in his hospital room because an O2 tube got twisted in his throat. I was so scared and ran from the room to hide….Blur…different day at the CC, being lead into a waiting area by a family friend…

"Timmy, your daddy is going to die today."

I cried.

I went to see him for the last time. I’m told that he was pretty much unresponsive until I walked in. When I crawled beside him he took off his O2 mask. He told me how much he loved me. “We will meet again. At some other time, in some other place.”

I told him I loved him, kissed him, and was taken out of the ICU.

He died that night.

Blur…food…blur…people….blur….food and people and food and people….funeral home… many people...funeral and cemetery...big black car, uncle reaching in through the window to hug mom, my brother and me…blur..

The rest of my life without my father.

It makes me cry, even now. I loved him so much.