Archive for June, 2012

Almost Perfect

June 29, 2012



  If you keep your eyes open and wits receptive, it’s amazing the cool stuff you come across.  Just yesterday, for example, I was driving by the jobsite you see above and did a double take.  At first, I thought that a piece of concrete pipe had loosed its restraints and was rolling toward disaster.

  Then, lo, a pair of steel arms lowered it to the ground gently as a nursemaid.  Beautiful bit of industrial choreography.  Had to stay to watch the whole process and was amazed at its efficiency and the economies of movement and energy.  One person unloaded the whole truck without assistance or requirement for outside power.

  Learned that the thing is a Pipemaster 100 and was invented in 1956 by Hank Schmidgall not far from here and has become an industry standard for all of the obvious reasons.  Easy one person operation – driver does it all.  Don’t have to wait for a crane or backhoe.  Thus no delays and can haul more pipe in a day. 

  Then later, on my way home, I couldn’t believe my eyes.  The Weinermobile!  I’d been struck with great good fortune twice in one day.  This bit of only-in-America was designed by Oscar Mayer’s nephew Carl in 1936.  There are now eight on the road: six built on a GMC chassis and two on that of a Mini Cooper. 

  Their horns can play the jingle (I wish I were a…) in twenty-one different genres from Cajun to Rap to Bossa Nova.  After multiple circumperambulations I drove home quickly, determined to find my Weiner Whistle.  Well, it wasn’t to be a perfect day, but one could hardly complain.

Let There Be Light

June 22, 2012


  Having been in the ER several times during the past week or so due to the aforementioned incident, I took the opportunity to sort of Rosetta Stone the placard you see above.  It was prominently mounted on a wall in every patient room I’ve visited thus far.  (Just one more visit to go!)

  Even though I’ve never had to worry about being in labor (rest assured my roommate would agree with that statement – whatever meaning you might ascribe to the phrase) the translation of that bit is what interests me most.

  I know a little Spanish and enjoy watching Despierta America (Wake up America) on Univision in the early AM.  You should watch it.  It is interesting even with the sound off, for the wonderful cultural counterpoint it conveys vis The Today Show, Good Morning America, et al.

  Anyway, the title and first phrase up to the conjunction translate easily word for word.  But then in English it says “…or are in labor…” and in Spanish “O Esta Dando A Luz” which I knew didn’t say anything about work or labor – trabajo.  I knew that Luz meant light.

  Turned to one of my research assistants, daughter #1, who informed me that the phrase does indeed mean “in labor”/giving birth, but translates literally as “…or you are giving light”.  I think that is beautiful, interesting, and further provocation for my sodium ion exchange (that’s what moves stuff along in one’s neurons).

  Had I ever have had the prospect of being in labor, I wonder if the nature of my anticipation of such an event would have differed if I’d  known it described exclusively by one or other of the phrases.  I’ll go out on a limb and say that it would have.  

  On the one hand, whatever combination of excitement, nervousness, and trepidation one might feel, to view the penultimate stage of a pregnancy in terms of work would be way different than, say, as the dawn of a new universe.

  Furthermore, that metaphor, “dando a luz” would (in my mind anyway) evolve through a series of metaphiers from the initial “giving light”, to the newborn’s astonished visage, to the acquisition of literacy, to a college mortarboard, and to a bright eyed effort to make the world a better place.

  But then I’ll never be pregnant and in all honesty the process of giving birth does not look that much like any sort of serene experience.  I would never have chosen the word “labor”.  More reminds me of William Wallace’s last experience of life in Braveheart.  Torture. I’ve watched it three times.  Birth that is.  Braveheart many more.

*Interested in metaphors and their contribution to consciousness?  Go to post of February 4, 2011



Exercise is Stupid

June 15, 2012


  Last Sunday at about 10:00 AM I was running hot and shirtless across a busy intersection near a bike path.  Looking at me on the far side was a big dog with a vaguely disheveled woman, hungover maybe, in tow at the end of a steel collar and lead.  Unfortunately that’s the best recollection I can muster.

  As I veered left a bit, the dog snarled toward me and clenched my right forearm in its jaw.  It was tall enough that it didn’t have to jump up. “It bit me!?” I exclaimed as he let go and lurched toward my groin.  I leaned back as lady wrestled chain with both hands.

  Bleeding not a river, but a decent crimson creek I told the pair that I love dogs and was not inclined to make a big deal of the incident.  She said nothing and looked confused.  “Thing have its rabies shots?” I asked?  “Uh, ya” she finally mumbled stumbling away.  Maybe was even still drunk.

  That was it.  Right side covered in blood, I ran the mile or so to meet my took a shortcut wife who was impressed, then on home to call Dr Brother.  “Uh, I think I’d want proof” he said.  “Make sure to wash it off well and check to see if your tetanus is up to date”.  Hmm, I drove back to the scene then and several times later to try to cross paths and verify.  No luck.

  Did a bit of research and found that it has been a long time since anyone has contracted rabies from a dog bite in the USA – due to widespread and multifarious animal control measures as well as some 40,000 post incident inoculations annually.  Uh, also learned that a horrible violent death follows an untreated case of that viral disease nearly 100% of the time. 

  Called the county health department to find if there is a record of canine rabies cases in the area.  “Uhm let me see: none this year – yet, one in 2011, two in ten, five in ’09, why?”  I explained.  She took down the whole story, told me that by law dog bites must be reported and that there were more than enough rabid bats, skunks, and coons about for dog owners’ concern to be caused let alone mine.

  She’d have animal control undertake a thorough series of patrols, talk to the MD County Health Director, and get back to me.  Oh boy.  The grim but vivid tales from childhood of torturous dog bite aftermaths overwhelmed my consciousness.  Big Needles.  In the Stomach.  Twice a day for like a year.

  “Mr. Dumbass?, this is the county health department calling”.  “Hello”.  “There’s been no sign of your assailant and our director says that you should begin the inoculation series as soon as possible.  Supposed to start within seventy-two hours of the bite and you’re a bit past that.  Where would you like to have them?” “Not in my stomach” I quickly responded.  “No, I mean which emergency room.”  “Oh”.

  While typing up paperwork the ER receptionist told me that one receives multiple injections on the first visit.  “Last guy took twelve”.  I wondered how long the horrible violent death throes might last.  “It is based on body weight and that guy was well over 200 pounds so he had several in each shoulder, thigh, and buttock.

  That wasn’t bad news.  I don’t have nearly 200 pounds and thus likely wouldn’t even have to pull down my shorts.  Nurse was cute to boot.  One shot in each thigh and shoulder.  One at bite site. 0.5ml of Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis) to top it all off. Have to go back in three, seven, and fourteen days for more.  Piece of cake.  Oh ya, except for the thousand + bucks. 

  Shoulda stayed in bed.  Exercise is stupid.

kids in the middle dog at our feet

June 8, 2012


  Ok, don’t ask me where this is, because I’m not going to tell you.  And you’re gonna want to know.  I guarantee it.  Subtly supernatural it’d be the perfect haunt for a New World Merlin or Gandalf.  Those who’ve passed through leave imbued with a sense of wonder not to be dimmed by triumph, trial, or TV.

  Roommate and I stumbled upon it as kids which is why it came to mind when we had several of our own.  We were graced with the recollection and thought that the spot would be a great place to camp with a young group because it offered a wilderness experience minutes from home.  No foolin’. I took these photos this morning on my way to work!

  Well, maybe I didn’t take the route a crow might, but uhm, my house is basically centre ville, yard abuts an interstate, and even so I was alone and nearly lost to the sound of water some five to ten minutes after pulling out of my driveway.  Not a park or public land.  Like I said, secret.


  It’s a place the glaciers missed as you can see from the rugged limestone escarpment in the video below.  There is thus flora and fauna not often seen elsewhere.  I would have taken photos of the red columbine, but it’s not out yet.  Bluebirds, orioles, crawdads, and deer – rare before the herd explosion of the last twenty years.  We’d take plaster casts of their hoofmarks in the mud.


  Many massive sycamore trees magnificent in their addition to the canopy.  They in fact cover and hide this section of the creek and the cliffs from all but the most intrepid passers nearby.  We’d be quiet until dusk and before a bit after the sun came up because uninitiated could pass that close and not notice our presence without an aural clue.

  We all felt a subtle power, possessed of special knowledge as we’d silently watch folks chatter by unaware.  It came as no surprise to learn that Native Americans considered such sycamore groves sacrosanct.  After dark, we’d have a scrumptious repast and a huge roaring fire to complete our rite. Then into the tent kids in the middle and dog at our feet.


Surgeon General’s Warning

June 1, 2012


 Sorry about last week, I was in New Orleans and am still trying to recover.  Whew!  The city was founded in 1718 by the French Mississippi Company and was named for the Duke of Orleans whose title came from the city of Orleans in central France.  It became Spanish under terms of the Treaty of Paris in 1763.

  During the American Revolution, it was an important port through which flowed aid to the rebels enabling the successful southwestern campaign against the British.  New Orleans reverted to the French in 1801 and was sold by Napoleon to President Jefferson as part of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803.  It’s been part of the states ever since.

  Probably the most, uh, colorful part.  Waves of immigration have included Acadians, Haitians, Germans, Irish, Africans, and more yielding an incredibly fertile and febrile mix.  Leavened by multiple sources of mayhem, religion, and natural disaster, Jazz, Who Dat, and Cajun cuisine grew therefrom.  And 24/7 party central.

  The city tops many of the polls ranking tourist destinations by different criteria.  Many, but not all.  The place is the polar opposite of Disneyland.  Great fun and food is there to be had, but it is not way family friendly.  Makes Donkey Island look like recess.

  Life in the French Quarter maybe epitomizes the ambience by the way it juxtaposes normality with sinful ravage.  The swath Bourbon Street slices through that part of town opens all the way to the underworld.  You swear you’ve seen it all before in a Bosch picture. 

  On top of this post you’re looking inside a fine refined one hundred year old Bourbon Street restaurant.  Jackets are required for men.  No one is allowed to sport jeans or shorts.  Cuisine ranges from red fish to crawfish etouffe.  Bring plenty of dough.

  Wipe your mouth and step outside though and you realize that you’re living on borrowed time, break into a sweat, and hope to borrow more.  Below you see the occupants of the doors on either side of that sparkling establishment. 

  There are intermittent impromptu jazz parades, cops on horseback, and folks doin’ all sorts of different things for tips.  Very few of which would be tolerated, let alone legal, just about anywhere else on earth.  Ought to be a surgeon general’s warning on trip tickets with a NOLA destination.  I love it.