Sunday, December 29, 2002


I'd say I'm at about 80-90 percent right now. The plan is to stretch and work out after work. Coincidentally, that was the plan for the evening of 12/20 before I got up after sitting all morning and eventually found myself in the ER. What I do need to do is go to HR and see if the Vacation time I put in for around Christmas can be changed to Personal/Sick, since I clearly was not vacationing this week. Making that differentiation is the dumbest thing HR departments do anywhere. Well, okay, performance reviews are up there.

I kicked the Valium and Vicodin on Christmas Eve; once I could tackle walking, I wanted to be able to drive, and neither lends itself to that. Plus I wanted to eat grapefruit again, which is strangely one of the Valium-prohibited activities. I'm still on the Vioxx, so New Year's Eve will likely be an alcohol-free affair. I'm not scheduled to curl until Friday, which is good.

Despite the pain and dope, it was nice to have a quiet Christmas Eve and Day just with Kirsti. I missed seeing her parents & family, and the DeVeaus, but there is just so much to be said for sleeping in one's own bed and not dealing with hectic holiday schedules, just having casual Xmas dinners with peers in similar situations. Felt like this is what grownups do.
Shout-outs, and not the "in pain" kind, either

I have to head back to work tomorrow -- today now, actually-- and this after spending a week sleeping until about 10, usually in a drug-induced fog. Why am I still up? Because these are some of the people who were incredibly nice to us this week. They're incredibly nice any other time, but under the circumstances were especially swell this week:

Adam, who ducked out of work to cart Kirsti and me home from the hospital.

Karen, who recommended a whole bunch of back-care books.

Natalie, who, upon hearing we would not be flying to Boston, was among the first to extend a Christmas Eve dinner invite to us. Go hear her sing, won't you?

Michelle, Chris, and Karlo, who brought a care-package of one of those hot/cold cherry-pit pillows and some of Michelle's FAAAAAB-you-luss spaghetti sauce and meatballs. This (not the cherry-pit pillow) turned out to be Christmas Eve dinner, as we thought traveling and sitting would still be a dicey proposition at that point.

Steve and Jenni, whose phone call turned into a Christmas dinner invite. This one we did take up. I mean, it began, "You fuckin' cripple." How could we possibly say no?

Monday, December 23, 2002

"Aren't you supposed to be.." Boston, yes. The short story is I'm home, pumped full of drugs, recovering from a particularly debilitating back spasm that hit me Friday afternoon. I woke up that morning with a bit of a stiff back, but nothing too major. I got up around lunchtime and went to the drugstore two blocks from the office to run some errands. On the the return trip, my back just seized up -- it took me a good 20 minutes to walk back to the office. Got to my desk and called Kirsti, who had the day off. When she arrived we found I could not got out of my office chair without stabbing, excruciating pain. Four EMTs had to lift me from my chair onto a stretcher.

My ER treatment was relatively speedy. They figured rather quickly this was a muscle thing and not a spinal/disc issue, so the treatment was to get me drugged up enough to get me out of the ER, and write scrips to manage the pain until the muscles got closer to normal. Injections of Dilaudid and Valium did the trick for the former. Prescriptions of Vioxx, Valium, and Vicodin are taking care of business while home. Needless to say, flying was right out of the question. So here I am. I can putter about the house now, and dress and shower myself, but sitting upright for too long presents a problem thus far. We have received some Christmas eve/day invites from people, and are playing it by ear as to whether we go to either. A big issue right now is my inability to drive on my drug combo.

As for the drugs, Vicodin is wholly overrated. Whatever Brett Favre saw in it is eluding me completely. The jury's still out on Vioxx; it's one-a-day

and it supposedly has ibuprofen-like effects which build up over time. Dilaudid and Valium, however, are a hurtin' boy's best friend. Elvis and I heartily endorse them.

RIP Joe Strummer

The Clash was the first band I ever saw in concert, and one of the defining acts of my teenage years. Like most Americans raised on unhip radio, I arrived late to the party with the Combat Rock album, but each trip to their back catalogue was a new revelation. Their claim of being "the only band that matters" was never hype. I was holding out for a reunion tour in conjunction with the Rock & Roll HOF induction, but alas...

Friday, December 13, 2002

Today's laugh

the runner-up is Bowling for Columbine being named Best Documentary of All Time by some award group, but taking the cake isthis article, in which the author chastises Tony Soprano for not wearing condoms during his many trysts with...well, anything on two (and now one, since he and Svetlana got it on) legs. Hmmm, I think this is what's known as missing the forest for the trees.

This just in

If the Catholic Church names Mark Cardinal, then sign me up!


Thursday, December 5, 2002

Week in review

Tomorrow I leave for Trashmasters in Chattanooga. Upon my return I'll have much complaining to do about the tournament's interminable delays, plus I'll have Dead Pool 2003 picks to talk about, not to mention the other two Mental Hygiene programs I've ignored -- so I'd better get the Thanksgiving recap out of the way before it dries up like a wishbone. So--

Wednesday Uneventful drive up. We hit the road at about 5 a.m., got in before 1, with a stop for breakfast at Mecca. Kirsti took a shift at the wheel, which was nice. Got to see Katie and the kids. Dean has written a book; the first in a sprawling 16-volume saga called If an Alien Comes. It's at turns Joycean (where the chapters start in mid-sentence) and Proustian (where the narrator expounds on various Yu-Gi-Oh! cards). Dean will sell you a copy from $11.99 to $3.99, depending on how far you can grind him down. This is why there are agents, I guess. I have to say it was pretty good; certainly more ambitious than anything I did when I was eight. I didn't try writing the third Star Wars installment until I was 10.

Thursday quiet Thanksgiving with Kirsti, Mom, and Donna. Katie and her family were at the in-laws while Donna's daughter Jane was off dining with her future in-laws. Standard T-day fare; the only family oddity being a pink thing called cranberry "salad" (this being Minnesota, where Jello with fruit becomes a salad), consisting of ground cranberries, mini marshmallows, cool whip, and crushed pineapple. Some friends of Mom's came over in the evening and we played an early Christmas present to Mom, Apples to Apples. A big hit.

Friday Sans the boys -- which turned out to be a good decision because Dean would have been bored and we wouldn't have been able to take much in and watch Hayden -- Kirsti and I went to the Minnesota Children's Museum to see the traveling Sesame Street exhibit. It wasn't too bad, but I really wanted to see some Muppets up close, particularly the retired ones like Roosevelt Franklin and Sam the robot. But the point of a children's museum is interactivity, and collections of felt and foam under glass are not interactive. And of course, on Sesame Street the Muppets are real.

Lots of video, as you can imagine. Most of the better-known human characters had their own clips. Somewhat odd that the clip representing Mr. Hooper did not, in fact, include Will Lee, but was from the famous episode where Mr. Hooper's death is explained to Big Bird. They had the premiere episode on a loop. Much slower show than I remember the show being, and they made more of an effort to frame segments. And more slapstick violence than I remember, and a tinge of sexism (the only female character at the time was a stay-at-home mom). I wanted to get a glimpse of orange Oscar but gave up after 20 minutes.

From there we swung by the St. Paul Curling Club so I could get a broom, then to Cheapo where we dropped over $100 each on CDs, and then out to dinner with Amy, Kathleen, the newly-engaged Liz & Matt, and their friend Tony. I had a big bloody steak that must have weighed about 70 pounds. 'Cos, you know, everyone was famished after Thursday...

Saturday Iron Chef Lefse Battle. Mom and a cousin of hers have a friendly feud over who makes the best lefse, so it was down to my aunt and uncle's farm in Pine Island to put the mad Lefse skillz to the test. We almost were in trouble because we forgot to bring the cord to our griddle, but my aunt Carrie had a frying-pan cord handy. I am Mom's traditional flipper in this exercise. As a lad, I'd sit for hours and help Mom make batch after batch of this stuff, usually while subjecting her to the latest in mid-80s punk rock. The tunes were lacking this time out, but I pulled through. Who won? The judges, of course! Mmmmmmm...Norwegian potato tortilla...

Sunday Early Christmas. Since we're usually in Boston for actual Xmas, we've been exchanging gifts with my family around Thanksgiving for several years now. Despite the minor frustration at always having to spend the holidays on the road, this arrangement has worked out rather well for Kirsti and me, for while the rest of Christendom is sweating to get its shopping done, we've got our feet up chillin' .

We visited Dad and Barb, both under the weather, for a while, then did the gift thing with Mom, Donna, Katie & family in the evening. Highlights included Mom and I getting each other the Singin' in the Rain 2-disc DVD, Hayden's head just about exploding with ecstasy over his Power Ranger figure, and Hayden admonishing Dean, in the style of his parents, to leave him be: "DEEEEAN! 'member what we talked about!". I am now awash in German boardgames: this, this , this , and the 5-6 player expansion for that. It's always good to place the order for what your wife gets you.

Monday Left MN at about 10:30, got home at 7-ish. Weather was fine until Milwaukee, where we got a small taste of the dumping Chicagoland had received. Got word that remarkably, my Sunday morning team clawed its way into the finals. Bad news is, they're on 12/22, so I'll have to find another sub.

TuesdayBack to work. Dinner with Roy and Nancy, who were visiting Nancy's mom for Thanksgiving. We bestowed upon them Grave Robbers from Outer Space, which has some very funny cards and interesting mechanics, but seemed a long way to go for Nancy to win a game by a score of, say, 15.

Wednesday Curling resumed. We saw a healthy lead wiped out by a 5-ender in the 6th to tie things up, but eked out a 1-point win to move to 7-0 with two games remaining. A playoff spot is still not a lock, though, with two 1-loss teams also in the hunt. Despite not throwing in over a week, I thought I did all right. I like the new broom. For all the stressing I did about getting subs for the three games I missed, it turns out Monday's game was cancelled; one would assume it was weather-related.

today Work. Bleah. On the upside, we had dinner with Laura, whom we've been out of contact with since May, at Fondue Stube. Yummy, but I smell like a fryolator. Laura is a friend of mine from high school who went to Northwestern and never left the area. Her birthday was yesterday, and every year for the past 5 or so I've missed her party because I've been going to Trashmasters. And more about that...later.