Saturday, March 29, 2008

The lights are on, and nobody is home

For the Earth Hour complainers, this clearly was the case.

The whole point of Earth Hour seems to have gone way over some people's heads. I think there would have been less whining and complaining if they had been asked to cut off their left arm.

It's awareness, for crying out loud. Nobody is saying that the world is going to change overnight simply because you turned off your lights and non-essential appliances for one hour.

If you don't want to do it, THEN DON'T. But don't say "it's stupid" or say that you're going to turn on all your damned lights in protest of the idea.

Yes, that's what one poster in a forum I regularly read said he was going to do. I guess we won't know if he actually did it. I suspect he didn't.

What's the big fuckin' deal? ONE HOUR of your precious time to sit in darkness is all that was asked of you, so that maybe the next time you reach to turn on a light you'll stop and think, "Do I really need this light on?" Chances are, you don't. And over the long term, you save yourself a few bucks and help the environment.

Is that so wrong?

Good grief.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

CNEWS - World: Parents picks prayer over treatment; girl dies

CANOE -- CNEWS - World: Parents picks prayer over treatment; girl dies: "WESTON, Wis. (AP) — Police are investigating an 11-year-old girl’s death from an undiagnosed, treatable form of diabetes after her parents chose to pray for her rather than take her to a doctor."
God can't cure diabetes

This is sad, and it pisses me right off. You have to be crazy to let your daughter die of a something that can be treated by medicine.

They're a pair of nuckin' futz and should be locked up.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Rockin' out!

I'm a Rock Band addict. So is my wife. My kids play as well, but not nearly as much as my wife and I.

My wife gave me an XBox 360 for Christmas. The following week, I bought Guitar Hero II. This was the seed that got my wife addicted. A week or two later, we got Guitar Hero III, with a second guitar. A month or so later, we picked up Rock Band. Just the game, since we already had the two guitars.

Being the typical guy who doesn't read manuals unless he has to, I wasn't aware that the Xbox headset could function as a microphone for Rock Band. After someone told me, THEN I read the manual. My daughter loved it. I ordered a Logitech USB microphone from Dell's web site and it was at my door within 2 days.

We knew that at some point we'd get the drums. That point arrived about a month ago after we had to send one of the guitars back to Red Octane for warranty servicing.

It didn't take long to realize that the drums are loud. The hard rubber/plastic surface makes a very distracting "thwack" when you play, unless you tap really lightly. Light tapping works great, but it definitely lacks that "rock out" feeling.

Something had to be done.

I came across these, as I was searching for a source of the stand-alone drumkit. (turns out that it simply wasn't available at the time)

Gum Rubber Pads

I watched all the videos and read a few reviews, and all seemed positive. I had come across other "solutions", but this one seemed to stick with me. So, I ordered a set for $35 Cdn (S&H included).

Unfortunately, do to the apparent high demand, all orders would be delayed by 2 weeks. No big deal.

I actually ended up waiting 3 weeks. Two week wait... 1 week travel time? Regardless, it was well worth the wait.

The first thing I noticed was that they were thicker than I expected. I'm bad with measurements though. They are 1/8" thick, as the web site states they should be. I think my brain thinks of 1/8" as being thinner.

Anyway, the second thing I noticed was... the smell. Rubber stinks, and these were no exception. Or maybe it's he adhesive...

The third thing I noticed is that these were high quality. They felt durable. They felt like they could really take a beating, and survive.

The adhesive backing covers the ENTIRE back of the pad too. Apparently these can be removed easily if there's a need to ship the kit back to Harmonix? I wouldn't like to try that.

Installation was simple:
  1. Make sure the drum heads are clean.
  2. Carefully peel the paper off adhesive backing of the pad.
  3. Center on the drum head and...
  4. Press down firmly.
When I say carefully peel the paper, I mean carefully. It's quite easy to accidentally peel the paper AND the adhesive off the rubber pad, if you can't get a finger nail between the paper and the adhesive. Take your time finding that edge to grab.

We happen to have a small wooden roller in our kitchen that I used to roll a few times across the rubber pad to make sure it was glued down properly.

Now repeat the four steps 3 more times. The instructions included also say to let them sit for 15 minutes to dry. I couldn't wait after the first one was glued on and test it out for one song. I didn't want to go through putting all four on, only to discover that I didn't like it.

I'm pleased to report that they work great! The drums are a little less sensitive, but that's more than made up for with the freedom to "rock out" harder.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Swimming at the edge of Victoria Falls

Someone at work sent around some photos of people swimming near the edge... yes, the TOP, of Victoria Falls at Zimbabwe.

My first instinct was to visit to find out if this was real. Snopes had nothing on it.

A little Googling later, and I came across this web site -- a blog -- with the same pictures, AND a video.

I don't care how safe it is... I think you'd have to have bowling balls to do that.

Check out the video...

There's another one on their web site as well that's worth watching.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Why you shouldn't talk on the cell phone in the bathroom...

I don't know where this originated. A friend sent it to me and it's funny as... well... shit. :)

All in all, it hadn't been a good day. Bad traffic, a malfunctioning computer, incompetent coworkers and a sore back all made me a seething cauldron of rage.

But more importantly for this story, it had been over forty-eight hours since I'd last taken a dump. I'd tried to jump start the process, beginning my day with a bowl of bowel-cleansing fiber cereal, following it with six cups of coffee at work, and adding a bean-laden lunch at Taco Bell. As I was returning home from work, my insides let me know with subtle rumbles and the emission of the occasional tiny fart that Big Things would be happening soon. Alas, I had to stop at the mall to pick up an order. I completed this task, and as I was walking past the stores on my way back to the car, I noticed a large sale sign proclaiming, "Everything Must Go!"

This was prophetic, for my colon informed me with a sudden violent cramp and a wet, squeaky fart that everything was indeed about to go. I hurried to the mall bathrooms. I surveyed the five stalls, which I have numbered 1 through 5 for your convenience:
  1. Occupied.
  2. Clean, but Bathroom Protocol forbids its use, as it's next to the occupied one.
  3. Poo on seat.
  4. Poo and toilet paper in bowl, unidentifiable liquid splattered on seat.
  5. No toilet paper, no stall door, unidentifiable sticky object near base of toilet.
Clearly, it had to be Stall... 2. I trudged back, entered, dropped trou and sat down. I'm normally a fairly Shameful shitter. I wasn't happy about being next to the occupied stall, but Big Things were afoot.

I was just getting ready to bear down when all of a sudden the sweet sounds of Beethoven came from next door, followed by a fumbling, and then the sound of a voice answering the ringing phone. As usual for a cell phone conversation, the voice was exactly 8 dB louder than it needed to be. Out of Shameful habit, my sphincter slammed shut. The inane conversation went on and on. Mr. Shitter was blathering to Mrs. Shitter about the shitty day he had.

I sat there, cramping and miserable, waiting for him to finish. As the loud conversation dragged on, I became angrier and angrier, thinking that I, too, had a crappy day, but I was too polite to yak about in public. My bowels let me know in no uncertain terms that if I didn't get crapping soon, my day would be getting even crappier.

Finally my anger reached a point that overcame Shamefulness. I no longer cared. I gripped the toilet paper holder with one hand, braced my other hand against the side of the stall, and pushed with all my might. I was rewarded with a fart of colossal magnitude -- a cross between the sound of someone ripping a very wet bed sheet in half and of plywood being torn off a wall. The sound gradually transitioned into a heavily modulated low-RPM tone, not unlike someone firing up a Harley. I managed to hit the resonance frequency of the stall, and it shook gently.

Once my ass cheeks stopped flapping in the breeze, three things became
  1. The next-door conversation had ceased;
  2. my colon's continued seizing indicated that there was more to come; and
  3. the bathroom was now beset by a horrible, eldritch stench.
It was as if a gateway to Hell had been opened. The foul miasma quickly made its way under the stall and began choking my poop-mate. This initial "herald" fart had ended his conversation in mid-sentence.

"Oh my God," I heard him utter, following it with suppressed sounds of choking, and then, "No, baby, that wasn't me (cough, gag), you could hear that (gag)??"

Now there was no stopping me. I pushed for all I was worth. I could swear that in the resulting cacophony of rips, squirts, splashes, poots, and blasts, I was actually lifted slightly off the pot. The amount of stuff in me was incredible. It sprayed against the bowl with tremendous force. Later, in surveying the damage, I'd see that liquid poop had actually managed to ricochet out of the bowl and run down the side on to the floor. But for now, all I could do was hang on for the ride.

Next door I could hear him fumbling with the paper dispenser as he desperately tried to finish his task. Little snatches of conversation made themselves heard over my anal symphony: "Gotta go... horrible... throw up... in my mouth... not... make it... tell the kids... love them... oh God..." followed by more sounds of suppressed gagging and retching.

Alas, it is evidently difficult to hold one's phone and wipe one's ass at the same time. Just as my high-pressure abuse of the toilet was winding down, I heard a plop and splash from next door, followed by string of swear words and gags. My poop-mate had dropped his phone into the toilet.

There was a lull in my production, and the restroom became deathly quiet. I could envision him standing there, wondering what to do. A final anal announcement came trumpeting from my behind, small chunks plopping noisily into the water. That must have been the last straw. I heard a flush, a fumbling with the lock, and then the stall door was thrown open. I heard him running out of the bathroom, slamming the door behind him.

After a considerable amount of paperwork, I got up and surveyed the damage. I felt bad for the janitor who'd be forced to deal with this, but I knew that flushing was not an option. No toilet in the world could handle that unholy mess. Flushing would only lead to a floor flooded with filth.

As I left, I glanced into the next-door stall. Nothing remained in the bowl. Had he flushed his phone, or had he plucked it out and left the bathroom with nasty unwashed hands? The world will never know.

I exited the bathroom, momentarily proud and Shameless, looking around for a face glaring at me. But I saw no one. I suspect that somehow my supernatural elimination has managed to transfer my Shamefulness to my anonymous poop-mate.

I think it'll be a long time before he can bring himself to poop in public -- and I doubt he'll ever again answer his cell phone in the bathroom.

And this, my friends, is why you should never talk on your phone in the bathroom.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

My Blog

I'm still amazed at how many visits this blog has received, despite the fact that I hadn't updated it in almost a year.

I had a quick look at what people come here for and the two most popular entries are Perfect Kraft Dinner, followed by Ice Skating Memories.

I can thank Kraft for the hits on the first one since they no longer print the microwave instructions on the box and refer you to their web site where it's damn near impossible to find what you're looking for. But the second one puzzles me.

I'm glad that people are finding use for this blog, despite my slacktitude.

Frozen Shoulder (Adhesive Capsultis)

A friend, and fellow geocacher, who also happens to have a problem his shoulder with the exact same symptoms as I do, sent me this link today after visiting with a physiotherapist.
Frozen Shoulder (Adhesive Capsultis)

Many patients suffer from "frozen shoulder" which physicians refer to as adhesive capsulitis, or on occasion, bursitis or tendonitis. This is a rather unusual problem that occurs in the shoulder and results in stiffness, loss of motion and often substantial pain.
After reading it, I'm convinced that this is what I also have. I have every symptom listed, and the time frames are pretty much bang on to when my shoulder problem began. I'm guessing that I'm in the "frozen stage" right now.

Once my doctor receives the results of my MRI, I'll make another appointment and bring a print out with me to see what he thinks.

The part that sucks is that there doesn't seem to be much that can be done, other than let it take its course and physiotherapy. The thought that it could last as long as 3 years makes me shudder. I hope I'm not in that exception. Even 1 year is 1 year too much, imho.

8th-grader suspended for buying Skittles in school

SKITTLES?! God no, not Skittles! What the hell is happening to the education system, for crying out loud. Kids are dealing Skittles in school!

8th-grader suspended for buying Skittles in school

It's not like there aren't more important things to deal with, like... umm... cigarettes... or drugs...


I decided to write about my shoulder problem for the comedians who enjoy linking my Guitar Hero and Rock Band addiction to my shoulder. Hopefully this will clear up a couple of assumptions and/or misconceptions once and for all. :)

First... imagine not being able to raise your arm more than, say, a 60-70 degree angle in front of you. Imagine not being able to raise your arm out to your side more than shoulder height. Imagine not being able to reach behind you -- ever tried tucking your t-shirt in without reaching behind you? And if you DO try to go beyond these "limits" you are treated to a burning, cramp-like pain in your shoulder, that travels down your arm, increasing with intensity by the second, lasting for about 30-60 seconds (if you're lucky)

I can't describe how much this can hurt. There's nothing that I've experienced to compare it to. If I were to make an assumption, I suppose the closest would probably be like hitting your thumb with a hammer. Not a gentle tap. A full swing, capable of driving a railway spike into solid concrete. And you'll feel that pain a few times every day, if you're not careful.

Although my doctor is not sure what is wrong with my shoulder, and I do not recall exactly when it all started, what I AM sure of is that it was NOT caused by my addiction to Guitar Hero or Rock Band. In fact, my shoulder problem began two or three months before I even had the Xbox 360 that I play these games on. My shoulder feels fine, most of the time, within the "limitations" I mentioned above. This means that I have absolutely no problem playing Guitar Hero or Rock Band, as long as I'm not trying to imitate Pete Townshend or Neil Peart.

To date, I have had an X-ray and a cortisone shot. The X-ray showed no signs of any bone damage or calcium build up. The cortisone shot helped a little, but not as much as we had hoped. I am currently taking anti-inflammatory drugs and awaiting the results of an MRI that I had last Saturday morning.

My doctor suspects that it could be bursitis, or some kind of shoulder cuff injury. We'll hopefully know more after the MRI is done.

There are two incidents that I suspect either caused, or contributed to, the pain and the limited mobility of my left arm.

At the end of the summer, we participated in a small volley ball tournament held in our community. I recall that my shoulder was a little sore after that day, but not to the degree that it is now.

The other possibility was when I spent a couple of hours helping to move appliances about 3 or 4 months ago. Although it didn't hurt as much the following day, it did seem to progress from that point to where it's at now.

Could it be "old age"? If being over 40 is "old", then sure. I'm 42. My doctor said that shoulder problems can usually start at around 40. If you're nearing 40 and not having shoulder problems, your day will likely come... and if you think this is funny now, we'll see how funny it is then. :)

So much for being alive...

Too funny.

I post back in June that I was going to start writing here again, and then.... nothing.

Way to go me.

Ok, now I'm going to make an effort.


I promise.

I think.

I just need something to write about.

While you're waiting, drop on by Popcultini and have a read.