Monday, March 21, 2011

Only Move When Necessary

Jon Carroll is suffering.

I threw my back out the other day. Now everything has to be done with great attention to detail, lest pain set in. Pain sets in anyway, but the amount is not as great.

This causes a very basic change.

A bad back takes away the impulse to impulsive behavior. No more carefree days of rising and getting a drink of water. Now it's a 10-minute process, complete with thinking.

But is he complaining? Well,yes, but....

I'm not really whining; I am expressing solidarity with all the other back sufferers. You really don't know what it is until you get it, and if ever, ever I was less than effusively sympathetic to someone with back pain, I take it all back now. Nobody knows the trouble you've seen. I believe that now.

Growing Out of a Name

At last, true signs of Spring. Most of the snow is gone here, and any that replaces it is now likely to be short-lived, a last rear-guard action. Now all the talk on the news and among government officials is of flooding, with Emergency Operations being planned and patrols looking for road closures. There are also robins in large numbers, as well as a sighting of the first outdoor spider of the season, along with a fly large enough to carry off that spider if it so desired.

Saturday was also the first day in the yard for Grandbaby this season. She had noticed with great excitement the gradual reappearance of rocks and grass from under the snow after 5 months, which is a considerable period when you've only put in 32 months on earth. Now the ground had dried sufficiently for running about and swinging and chasing a local squirrel and generally wearing out Grandpa. Happily for my cardiovascular functions she finally slowed down when she got the idea to use a tree branch to "catch fish" in the water running along our curb (her timing was spot on, too; by Sunday all that water was gone). It's interesting to see what sticks in a child's memory. She hadn't been fishing since last summer, yet she still recalled it well enough to reenact the basic mechanics.

Typing this also brings up something I have been contemplating. If you saw my previous post (sorry) you know that Grandbaby is no longer The Grandbaby. That and her movement out of Babyhood have led me to consider a name change for her in this humble blog. (I know, she'll always be her Mom's baby, just as her Mom is still my wife's baby and my daughter is still her Mom's baby, etc. I'm not going anywhere near that.)

Granddaughter is accurate, but not distinctive; we have 5 granddaughters. I admit to giving Stink Pot serious consideration for reasons that become obvious to anyone who experiences more than 10 minutes of her...shall we say... precociousness. Bean has been given to her as a nickname by her Grandma. Then there's always Whitney because - as she would say - that's her name. I will have to give this more consideration. Certain decisions should not be rushed.

Teeth and Other Discards

James Lileks and I (see previous post) aren't the only ones with a tooth-related tale. Dale at Faith in Honest Doubt not only has a memory, he has the teeth.

I have kept them as a reminder of oh, say, the frail, ephemeral quality of our bodies, or because it's not clear how best to dispose of cast-off body parts.

I had my wisdom teeth pulled at about that same time (I don't recall exactly when, and it would be too much work to find out). My problem was opposite the usual; one was sticking out, causing me to bite the inside of my cheek. The upside to that was they all came out quite easily, the only slight problem occurring when one came out of the pliers and I had to sit up rather abruptly to avoid swallowing it. I also took mine home. I presented them to my first wife, who let me know she would have lived on quite happily without that little surprise. Sadly, I don't still have them. Interestingly, I don't have that wife either. I shall move on without further pursuit of that.

I have had different experiences with body part disposal. I wasn't allowed to keep the bone chip that was removed from my elbow. Apparently the hospital needed it to prove they actually accomplished something. My first wife, however, got to take her gall stones home (different hospital), and my daughter took them to school for show-and-tell. From what I understand, the kids thought they were cool, but the teacher's reaction was similar to my first wife's response to the teeth.

Most recently my wife told me that her son gave her his newest daughter's umbilical cord, and that she is crafting a pouch for them to store it. (As an aside, this young lass was born roughly 5 weeks prematurely at 9 lbs. 9 oz. In the preemie ward she looks like a Harley in a parking lot full of scooters.) Apparently this is a Lakota tradition (the mother is Lakota), but it was new to me, and my initial reaction, though outwardly subdued, wasn't much different in thought from the others I mentioned.

Ah well, as Dale noted, I guess it beats just throwing the old parts out. I believe the slogan is "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle".

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Pick Your Pain

James Lileks and I share an affliction.

A quiet evening at home with only the dull silent roar of my back molar to interrupt the heart-salving balm of domestic joy. I think that was the problem with the chap in the Munch painting, “The Scream.” Had nothing to do with the condition of modern man confronting the challenges of modernity, and the attendant disruption of old social norms and the rise of an atomized sense of individuality lost in the screaming sea of urban life, adrift from the anchorages – God, King, Country – where once Man found shelter. Dude just had a toothache.

My tooth trouble isn't nearly that intense, just ongoing. It had a large cavity, which I had filled last November, I believe. At the end of January a mysterious crunchy material appeared in my mouth, and the tooth began stinging occasionally. Nothing terrible, just annoying. A trip to the dentist determined that the filling was still OK, but the tooth was falling apart around it. The dentist attempted reconstruction, which seemed OK for about two days before the mild ache reappeared. Again, it's not a large inconvenience, so I don't feel the need or have the funds to run back again. Further deterioration may change that.

James also recalled his days as a high school debater.

There were certain types of speeches about the subject du jour – if the resolution concerned energy conservation, and you were neg, you’d go shale, or deep-water drilling, or nukes, or a combination of all available options. As soon as you said “Nuclear power” the other team would roll out the boilerplate, and with a bad team they’d throw everything at the walk without addressing your specifics. First neg would make a speech he or she had made before, but it wasn’t necessarily a rebuttal of what you’d said. Second affirmative would rebut the salient points; second neg would crow over all the things they’d said you hadn’t rebutted.

Something tells me we called those splatter-shot arguments “spamming.”

It seems to me to be a fair description of typical political discourse in this country. I prefer the toothache.

Charlie and Elvira

Another day started with snow shoveling, which happens here in March, I know. I'd just like to see the outside temperature rise to something close to average.

One thing worth pondering (to me, anyway) about the Charlie Sheen breakdown (I don't know what else to call it) from a purely TV angle is the coincidental deterioration of Two and a Half Men. The plots seemed to be getting more fanciful and less coherent, with Sheen's character acting almost as crazy as he has been doing. This had to have an additional enabling effect beyond the normal Hollywood ass-kissing associated with success.

It also brings up a chicken-or-egg question. There's always been a certain art-imitates-life feel to the show, what with guest appearances by Martin Sheen, Emilio Estevez, old friend Sean Penn and even second wife Denise Richards with their daughter Sam. Have the producers and writers been trying to accommodate Sheen's lifestyle to keep the show together, or has Sheen been letting his character bleed into real life? Likely a bit of both. I also can't help but notice that here's another person who has succumbed to the the pressures and distortions of a life spent in and around the Hollywood fantasy machine.

As for the show, it has reached the age where many series start to go downhill anyway. I don't see how it can survive. Plugging in someone else, Bewitched-style, for Sheen wouldn't seem to be workable, although the producers have nothing to lose by trying. Perhaps Jon Cryer and Angus Jones could spin off into a new show.

On another TV note, we've completed our company-forced conversion to digital cable with the successful installation of a converter box on each of our three TVs. They work OK, I guess, even as they remind me of the boxes I used to have in the early days of cable, except for the remote control, of course. We considered replacing one of the TVs to avoid paying for a box (two of them are free) but we don't really have the money for that, and $2 a month is cheap enough. I'm not terribly impressed with the channel-surfing ability of the tuner, though.

This has added the off-air digital channels we didn't get before. The other two Public TV channels basically run stuff the main channel has run, along with some programs not seen around here before. It also allows all the state high school basketball tournaments to be on TV. There's also a movie channel called This, which adds a bit more variety to the lineup even if it has brought Elvira back with her lineup of truly bad movies, such as Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter. (The title should be all you need to know, but if Horror indeed.) NBC's Universal Sports channel is great if you like skiing. The two additional Fox Sports channels haven't been of much use so far except for the airing of some local college basketball. KELO's weather channel isn't much to watch, but it does offer another source for local conditions, which is nice given the local Weather Channel's abandonment of the bottom-of-the-screen ongoing updates for our area. Overall, it's been more good than bad, which is rare for channel additions.