Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Four Words

Sugar Hill Alarm Clock

Sunday, August 29, 2004

The Sad Part is That I HATED Atlas Shrugged

I found this at Blog on the Run, a blog I enjoy reading regularly. You take a survey that tells you which philosopher's ethical philosophy most closely match your own.

Here's my results:

1. Ayn Rand (100%) Click here for info
2. Jean-Paul Sartre (69%) Click here for info
3. John Stuart Mill (65%) Click here for info
4. Kant (59%) Click here for info
5. Aristotle (52%) Click here for info
6. Aquinas (51%) Click here for info
7. Plato (48%) Click here for info
8. Prescriptivism (47%) Click here for info
9. St. Augustine (38%) Click here for info
10. David Hume (35%) Click here for info
11. Jeremy Bentham (35%) Click here for info
12. Epicureans (33%) Click here for info
13. Thomas Hobbes (33%) Click here for info
14. Nel Noddings (31%) Click here for info
15. Nietzsche (30%) Click here for info
16. Cynics (24%) Click here for info
17. Stoics (23%) Click here for info
18. Spinoza (21%) Click here for info
19. Ockham (18%) Click here for info

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

First Rule of the Men's Room: Don't Talk in the Men's Room

I drove home through the rain, traffic slowed to a snail's pace on Kingshighway, and I was cursing the iced tea I drank about an hour ago.

Finally, I made it to Home Depot, my destination, and sprinted to the restrooms. I made it in and up to the urinal, where I took care of business.

"It's dagnerous to blow."

I looked over; the guy at the stall next to me was looking straight at me and talking.

Now I live by a few simple rules, and one of them is that you don't talk to someone while he/she is taking care of business on the throne or in the trough. You just don't do it. Some drunken fool starts talking to me in a bar bathroom, I'm liable to ignore him or just tell him to shut up.

What makes this more galling is that he broke a few other key rules in the process. For those of you not in the know, the rules of the men's room are very simple:

  1. When in a stall, keep your eyes front. Up and down is acceptable - especially if there's a newspaper, ad or photo of a scantily-clad woman in front of you.
  2. Unless you walked in with him, don't strike up a conversation with the guy next to you; especially if what you're saying is patent nonsene or just plain crazy.
  3. Wash your damned hands.
See? It's not brain surgery. But unfortunately, I'm forced to reply, because I'm afraid this dude is nuts and he's preparing to bang my head off the urinal pipes.

"Excuse me?" was my witty reply.

"It's dangerous to blow like that. You sighed when you started up; it affects your aim," he said.

"Oh. Yeah," I said, trying like hell to finish up. Fortunately, he walked out of the bathroom. Without washing his damned hands, so not only is he crazy, he's also unhygenic. I'm not sure which is worse.

So gentlemen, follow the rules of the throne room. You'll live a happier - and much cleaner - life.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Roller Coaster at 20,000 Feet

I love roller coasters; I love the wind blowing through my hair; the butterflies in my stomach as the car rockets down the track. Take me to an amusement park, and I'll ride the coasters three, four, five times.

I also love air travel; it's convenient, (generally) fast, and even though I'm inevitably consigned to sit next to guy with bad BO or small, loud children (rather than, say the really cute girl who smells desperation and sits six seats away), but other than that, it beats driving.

However, these are two things that should never be combined, like chocolate and peanut butter, peanuts and bubble gum or cocaine and baking soda.

We flew to Cleveland on Friday, flying through all the storms. The plane shook. The plane rose; the plane fell. And while I didn't have the feeling of wind in my hair (probably for the best), I did enjoy those butterflies, who were staging a loud, angry protest in my stomach.

Fortunately, we landed in once piece, even though it felt as if we simply dropped straight out of the sky for the last 100 or so feet straight onto the runway, kind of like dropping a stone of a 10-story building. You bounce back briefly, but end up on the ground.

But as they say, any landing you can walk away from . . .

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Scenes from the Sandusky

The water lapped gently against the boat's hull as we languished in the cool morning breeze. Some geese squawked overhead.

"Boat here yet?"


"What's keeping them?"

"I don't know."

"Maybe that's it."

"Are you kidding? That's too nice."

"Well hell. I don't know. It's a damn boat, isn't it?"

"How long ago did you make the call?"

"About 15 minutes."

"Good thing you brought the cell phone."

"Come on. We still have the radio - which no one knows how to use."

"I can hear it now: hello? Hello. We're stuck on some river by the marina. Can you come help at your earliest convenience? Thank you!"

"Yeah -- that might not work."

"There's the boat -and John's on it!"

"Okay gang - when the rescue gets here, women and children first, then you two, and I'll go down with the ship."

"But doesn't that mean you'll have to admit you killed the boat in the first place?"

"Good point. David, you stay."

"Hey! Thanks for coming out!"

"No problem; I'm going to hand over the gas can. Mike, can you get it? Great. Go ahead and fill it up. Hey -- where'd that gouge come from?"

"Oh, my dad did that when he collided with all the docks on the row."

"I see. You guys HAVE taken a boating class, haven't you?"

"Oh, yeah -- definitely." "Sure." "Absolutely."

Lies to the marina owner and running out of gas 150 feet from the marina entrance aside, it was a great weekend - we even made it back to Cleveland in time for the flight.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Nerd Alert

I was looking over some stuff on the net today - that's right, I was goofing off at work. I wish I could say it was the first time, but I digress.

What I figured out caused my nerd heart to go all a-flutter.

Next year opens with the new Battlestar Galactica television series; follow that up with Serenity in the spring.

Toss in a little Batman Begins with a side of Revenge of the Sith and I think I'm going to be broke all next summer.

Oh, and Doctor Who returns to television next fall as well.

So basically, if I'm having trouble finding a date now, next year really isn't going to help things much. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to dig my Jedi robes out of the closet.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Dr. Rao

I read this Monday; it was Jan Brody's column in the Health in Fitness section of the Post-Dispatch. Unfortunately, the letter that ran with the column isn't printed on the web, which is too bad, because it was one of the more moving things I've read in some time.

A grieving husband wrote the letter to his late wife's oncologist. The gentleman explained that he wasn't impugning the doctor's medical ability, but felt it was inappropriate and sad that the doctor essentially turned away from his wife when it became apparent that she was going to die soon.

I've had some firsthand experience with this; nearly three years ago, my father died of colon cancer. We'd been living with the cancer for so long that it became an everyday part of our lives. When an ambulance took Dad to the hospital before dawn that final Monday morning, I couldn't accept that he wouldn't be going home in a few days - despite the fact that he'd been growing weaker daily, was hallucinating and lived his days in ever-growing pain. We delude ourselves into thinking that those who are dear to us will never, never leave.

The sad truth hit me later that night when mom called to tell me that Dr. Rao, the surgeon who removed the colon a year ago came by to visit Dad in the ER that afternoon, after I had left. Dr. Rao was kind of a cocky prick. He walked with a swagger and had a cocksure glint in his eye that made me want to smack him. I didn't like him when I met him, but he fixed Dad up, so I did respect him.

Dad's regular oncologist was nowhere to be found. She finally returned a call after several hours; the residents acted much the same. Dad was clearly terminal, yet they would basically look in very briefly, tell us how he was doing (in doctorese, which is slightly less decipherable than Russian, yet more decipherable than the bookshelf instructions I read recently), and leave. However, Dr. Rao heard Dad was in the ER, awaiting transfer to Barnes, and he went to visit. He sat with Dad for an hour, hugged him, and gently told him that it was okay to die; that at some point, fighting for a few more days of life filled with nothing but medicine, doctors and pain really isn't much of a life; that there was no dishonor in giving up.

I hope that, Heaven forbid, if I'm ever in that situation, I have a doctor that will do the same thing. Oncologists and other doctors fight battles they constantly lose; the few clear wins become that much sweeter. And it's human nature to pull away, to put a little distance between yourself and the pain. I'm sure that for many oncologists, a small piece of them dies along with each lost patient. But the sad truth is that these patients who are facing death need their doctor's guidance and strength more than ever during the final stages of their illness, even if it's just to hold their hands and stand with them until the end - especially if that doctor has been with the patient from the beginning.

I don't know what Dad went through the last week of his life. All I know is that I sat beside his bed and watched him grow weaker and more dim from the blinding pain and the pain killers, and that when he finally passed, in one small way, I was relieved; he was no longer suffering.

Not a day goes by that I don't think of Dad; I miss his booming laugh and arguing politics and history with him, but he lived a full, rich and good life. I'm also happy that a surgeon took a few minutes out of his very tight schedule to meet with him, offer him comfort and let him see that he could die with dignity, surrounded by his loved ones.

More doctors need to take a page from Dr. Rao's book.

Sunday, August 15, 2004


Plenty to post this week, but I'm going to start off with the happiest news of the weekend: My man Otis is a father.

Dylan Price was born Saturday morning; mom and dad, while both sleepy, are doing well.

Otis inspired me to start this blog; he's a hell of a writer and he'll be an even better father.

Congratulations, Otis!

Monday, August 09, 2004

King of Softball

The King resides in a world where the sun perpetually shines, the emerrald grass beckons and all people come from miles around to see him grace us with His presence on the diamond.

His teammates wait for him to dispense His wisdom upon them; for they would be lost without him. His girlfriend, she looks at him adoringly, while he gently admonishes her for not living up to His image by turning the double play. For some mere mortals, only one out will have to suffice.

When a ball passes him, it's because the field is uneven or the ball took a nearly impossible hop. Someone must take better care of the field.

If he pops out, the wind caught it. If, Heaven forbid, he strikes out, it's because the umpire is out to get him or the catcher interfered with him.

And He never, never, never sits an inning out. Let the other, lesser players do it.

Off the diamond, He might wonders why no one ever talks to him. Don't they want to know His OBP, WHIP and slugging percentage?

Let them ignore him; they don't know greatness when they see it. Someday, they'll understand that they actually got to play with the King of Softball.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Learning Curve

We stared at each other across the table, neither one blinking. The noise in the room receeded, leaving only the two of us engaged in a battle of wills.

"I call," I said, and plinked six one-dollar chips in front of me.

I watched as he flipped over his hole cards, showing that he, indeed, has a full house. My two pairs just didn't stack up. Those are the breaks in limit poker.

The boys and I hit the casino Friday night; the lure of bright lights, cheap booze and easy money was simply too strong, and sadly, that saying about a fool and his money? It's true.

I fell in love with my hand twice; both times, had I just examined the table, I would have known that I had no business staying in the hand. At least I won two hands, which is two hands better than Marty did.

In any case, I learned a lot:

  1. Don't fall in love with two pairs - especially if one of those pairs comes from the flop.
  2. Pay attention to the hand as it's played.
  3. Don't bet against little Chinese guys who keep raising you, and don't convince yourself he's bluffing - because there's NO bluffing at a $3/$6 table.

I'll apply these lessons when we return - in a month or so.

In any case, It was fun watching the people at the table with me - there was the hard-luck young man sitting a couple spots from me; he couldn't catch a break to save his life. You could see the frustration mounting with each Budweiser and folded hand.

There was the jackass sitting across from me, who kept raising me every time I was on the big blind. He was middle-aged and you could see that this was the one time of the week he enjoyed - no family or job - just a stack of chips and a table full of new best friends. I still wanted to beat him with my shoe the third time he raised me on the blind. Jackass.

You see all kinds in the casino; at least in the poker room, people interacted rather than endlessly feeding the insatiable slot machines.

In any case, it was a good evening, and even though I came away with a little less cash, I'm ready to head back - in a few weeks, though; I need to recoup some of my losses first.

Thursday, August 05, 2004


Read the caption. Be warned, though, I don't know how long it'll stay out there.

EDIT: It's been fixed. It was good for a chuckle while it lasted.

Crazy Magnet Pt. II - Waste Management

I have a special place in my heart for old, bitter men - you know, the ones who wear pants hiked up to their necks; who scowl at you as you walk past, daring you to be friendly or say hello; who come after you for the smallest provocation - because, well, dammit - they're entitled - because they're old.

Before people say, "Ooh, he's an ageist. Man, he's going to become just what he hates - we all get old." Well, you're wrong -- I just signed a deal that will guarantee that never happens. I'd give you the particulars, but my business partner values his privacy; plus, it was kind of hard to find the office, which was surprising considering all the open flames and screaming. But I digress.

Seriously, I love talking to my grandmother; I liked visiting my grandfather when he was alive; I joke with the seniors at the polls. I enjoy hearing about days gone by and learning that life today really isn't all that different from yesterday. I'm a people person, dammit! But there's a subsection of the elderly that loves minding everyone's business and they will come after you with both barrels. And for some reason, it seems like the bitter old bastards are drawn to me like flies to stink.

Take Monday morning for example. Usually, when I walk the dog, I carry bags so I can clean up after her. Unfortunately, I forgot them Monday. I figured I would just come back and take care of it when I left for work.

We walked along the narrow strip of grass belonging to my reclusive neighbor -- you know, the shabby house on every street with one light burning, weeds peeking out from behind the fence and shingles falling off the roof - THAT house. And Trudy starts taking care of business. No problem - it's right around the corner from my house.

Then the car drove by.

The dark tan sedan inched by us and parked around the corner. It's passenger remained in the shadow of the building. I kept walking.

When we were about five houses away, I saw him get out, tall, with a t-shirt, fedora and plaid shorts. The dark socks and shoes complemented the outfit quite well. He grabbed a bag and walked over to the side of the house we'd just departed.

We kept walking.

I looked back when we reached the corner; there was the car, parked along the side of the street, halfway up the block. With his lights on.

We kept walking.

The car appeared at the corner we just rounded; it was parked, lights still illuminating the sunny morning. At this point, I began to feel like Christine was slowly pacing us, and at any moment, she would tear out in a squeal of smoke and rubber, plowing into us.

We kept walking.

The predator/prey relationship continued, until we reached my alley. We took off down the alley and into my yard. After I situated Trudy, I grabbed a bag and returned to the scene of the "crime" - there was nothing to be found.

I could see what was coming, and sure enough, when I climbed out of the car that evening, on the back step leading to my yard was the offending dropping. With a sigh, I cleaned it up, and went about my business.

Now, this guy followed me for two blocks while carrying a bag of dog shit in his car. He clearly was watching my house, because he dropped it AFTER I had left for work, so he probably saw me go back to the house to clean up the mess.

Don't you think that the well, SANE, thing to do here would have been confront me with the issue, so that I could take care of it myself, instead of stalking me and avoiding any confrontation?

That's because the man's insane. And therefore, he's drawn to me, like a magnet.

To be honest, I'm not sure he lives in the house he was guarding. I haven't seen his car since, because I wanted to leave him a note telling him not to be such a coward in the future - that way, he doesn't have to carry crap in his car for several blocks, but I haven't seen it after Monday.

I'm chalking this one off to crazy old man who has little better to do with his time, because frankly, I have better things to do than fight over someone over a single small piece of shit.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Crazy Magnet Pt. I - Weary is the Heart that Bears the Badge

I've long suspected that God's plan for me involves drawing all the crazy people in the world to my doorstep. I've been accosted by schizophrenics while working at Target, assaulted (verbally) by old men, and I won't even go into some of the women who have come and gone through my life.

This weekend, I was driving two friends to Aaron's graduation party in Columbia, MO. We cruising along Highway 70, approaching the bridge into St. Charles when I noticed a police car, driving well below the speed limit with his lights flashing.

I also watched two cars pass him, and nothing happened.

While staying below the speed limit, I crept up on the police car, which swerved into my lane and swerved back into his old lane.

At this point, I don't know if he's drunk, confused or just messing with me, so I pass him.

And he pulls me over.

"Step out of the car, please, sir." I followed him behind my car.

"Sir," he said, "I was trying to protect you and your family."

"From what?" I asked.

"If you see my lights are on, you don't have the right to pass me." he replied.

"Well, sir. I saw two cars pass you, and I didn't know what you were doing."


"Okay. No one passed you. I still don't know what you were trying to do. For all I knew, you'd left your light on by mistake."

"I didn't! We had reports of a car stalled on the bridge, and I was going to check it out."

Now this was bullshit. Traffic wasn't slowed at all, and there was no indication of it slowing down - except around him. Plus, if there was indeed a stranded motorist on the bridge, what the fuck was he doing driving like Miss Daisy up the highway instead of quickly going to help this person?

I pointed out the first part, figuring the second would be pushing my luck.

"Well, sir, that wasn't the case. Pay more attention in the future," he said, curtly.

"Yes, sir. Thank you." And I returned to the car, rather pissed off about the whole thing.

I support the police; I believe they have a thankless job where, for the most part, they do to the best of their abilities. But then someone does something like this; where he was looking to make an example of someone. I don't appreciate that one little bit. We all make mistakes, but if I make one, I don't have the right to pull someone over and tear him a new one over it.

In any case, he didn't give me a ticket, so I can't complain too much. Hopefully, next time he forgets and leaves his lights on, he'll be in a better mood.

Arc of Excruciating Pain

I play softball two nights a week; I enjoy getting out on warm summer evenings, running around, catching, hitting and throwing the ball. A little fresh air, some exercise and possibly a beer or two usually makes for a fun evening.

Perhaps I mentioned that I've been playing catcher a lot lately, and the position has grown on me. At first, I didn't like the kneeling down, but now, I enjoy the occasional play at the plate and the night-long game of catch with the pitcher.

But let's talk about last night - sound good?

I'd spent the day working on the house, and I was tired. I sat back to watch a movie, but then I realized that I had softball in about 45 minutes. So I ran upstairs and got dressed.

While dressing, I thought, "Maybe I should grab my cup."

"Nah," said the other little voice inside my head."You've never needed it - why bother? It'll just slow you down. Besides. What are the odds of a shot straight to the twins?"

"Yep, little voice, you're right," I thought. "Let's get to the game!"

Top of the third. One out. I crouch down. Pitcher lobs in the pitch. Batter lets it pass, where it bounces on the ground - once, twice, thrice and right into my crotch.

I sprung up and teared up at the same time. Walking in circles didn't seem to help, nor did cursing. Finally, I tossed the ball back to the pitcher and finished out the inning. Crouching back down and finishing the inning didn't do much, either. Finishing the inning was tough, because, well, I couldn't really see too well - the tears kept getting in the way.

I made it back to the bench, where I could sit and ache in peace.

In my grand tallying, this particular shot to the marbles ranks as number three - number one being the paintball incident and two being the umbrella incident. But that's scant comfort.

All I can say is tomorrow night and next week, I'll be properly attired.