Monday, January 29, 2007

Waiting room blues. . .

Here I am in the emergency room at Sibley again. I shall write about the whole saga in another blog – meanwhile, instead of picking up Toshi, I am here yet again. But I decided there are some things to know about Sibley’s waiting room.

  1. There is a blue sign in sheet which asks why you are here. I try to make it sound as dire as possible so that they will get to me – things like “may have massive bleed in head - psych" or "I am about to swallow my tongue." The 12-year-old manning the station doesn't know the difference. Also, I like to look as contagious as possible.
  2. The triage nurse doesn’t really care or actually know anything, at least at Sibley. They know enough to see if you are gushing blood or have an eyeball resting on your cheek, but nothing more than that. But they are usually very nice and pleasant, so it’s nice dealing with them – they even pretend like you’re important, so you get a fleeting moment of relief that you may actually be seen in the next few hours. But it’s all an elaborate ruse.
  3. Avoid Dr. Nick at all costs. That’s not really his name, but if you get him, you will know exactly who I am talking about. His claim to fame was the theory of the invisible virus. The undetectable, symptom-free virus. That lives in Niagara Falls. Don’t try to find it, because you won’t. It’s invisible. He is just scary.
  4. The registration clerks are awesome. They are usually trying to get another job somewhere – as a recruiter, I’ve done at least two employment counseling sessions with the registrars. This one actually remembered me from last week.
  5. Transporters are the bane of your existence. They are minimum wage menial workers whose sole job is to wheel people to procedures. There is only one for the entire hospital. They are in a union, so no one else can move a wheelchair or guerney without risking a major lawsuit for the hospital. Much of the time will be spent waiting for the transporter to come to take you to and from different tests.
  6. If you do not have your head in your lap, or blood gushing, they don’t really care. So you will have a lot of time in the back, behind a curtain, by yourself, with a lot of machines. Press buttons or try to hook yourself up to electrodes. See what your pulsox is. They like it a lot – I try to hear the phrase “we should watch that one” at least once.
  7. Read your chart whenever it is left unattended. Even if you don’t understand it, it freaks them out – they hate it when you read it. I have always wanted to just add things to the random comments – like “maybe she’s an alien – please do uranium workup” or “possible possession – will get priest to come in the morning.

Maybe this will make your stay more enjoyable. But then, maybe it won't. Especially if your eyeball is really resting on your cheek.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Why the weekends suck edition. Or: Being stood up blows.

So, this latest kvetch focuses on my dating life, yet again.

Remember this ladies, you get what you pay for. At least that's been the conventional wisdom. If this is true, then why is it that I've only been stood up by guys from the one dating site I actually have PAID FOR? Riddle me that, why don't you?

Anyhow, nothing says awesome like schlepping out in the FREEZING cold (have I mentioned that it was about 30 degrees today and SLEETY? No? Well, let me tell you, the weather's no treasure this week) and then festering in a bar for 40 minutes waiting for your mystery date. Who chooses not to show, and doesn't bother telling you he's not going to grace you with his presence. Thank god for World War Z, that would have been a very painful hour without its company.

I just don't get how some people find it acceptable to just not show up-as if everyone else's time isn't as valuable as your own? Were they all raised in barns? Who knows. All I know is that I am seriously cranky about the waste of time-I have loans left to underwrite tonight, you jerk!

His loss, really, at the end of the day. But damn if I'm not annoyed right now.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Dogmatic Patriotism- A lesson from Camden Yards

DISCLAIMER: This may anger a person or two, but if you are one of those, please think carefully about what I am about to say. No disrespect is intended to anyone. All I intend is a short treatise on dogmatic thought, brought to you by the Baltimore Orioles and the letter O.

I am about to recount to you an incident that was so surreal, and yet so offensive, that I have stewed over it from time to time for the better part of a year. The thoughts it sparks in me take multiple forms:

1- Dogmatism in any form is wrong, especially when the rule you dogmatically follow is not actually a rule.

2- Don't poke me in the head.

I will now take you on a lovely journey in the second person, to get you into the scene.

Imagine a bright sunny summer day, with temperatures in the mid-90s. You are a week away from marital bliss, and your fiancee has just completed the Columbia IronGirl Triathlon (and has made you quite proud to be marrying such a woman). You are already most of the way to Baltimore, so why not see a ballgame? As you meander toward the ballpark, your thoughts turn to hot dogs, a nice cold soda (or beer, if that's your thing), and the crack of the bat. You sidle up to the ticket window, and purchase tickets in the second row of the upper deck, close behind home plate. It is a perfect vantage point to watch the most beautiful of athletic endeavors.

As you arrive and sit down, the annoucer comes over the loudspeaker, and says something approximating the following:

"Ladies and Gentlemen. Please rise and remove your caps as we honor America with the singing of our National Anthem."

What follows is a lovely rendition of that beautiful poem, later put to song, written so many years before only a scant mile or two from where you sit. As the last note fades away, you sit back and relax to watch a few innings of our National Pastime.

A moment or two pass, and whatever should arrive, but the Seventh Inning Stretch. The announcer again comes over the loudspeaker, and says the following:

"Ladies and Gentlemen. Please rise as we honor our country with the singing of 'God Bless America'."

You take note, as you rise to your feet, that the instruction has changed slightly from when you heard it earlier, in that there is no mention of removing your cap. However, as the first notes waft across the Yard, somebody behind you POKES YOU IN THE HEAD. As you turn, a fat man with a scraggly beard tells you that you must take off your hat for the song.

Your reaction is, "I don't have to take off my hat for God Bless America." His retort, in its entirety:

"Well, I was in the military so..."

In order not to cause a scene, you take off your hat, but you seethe internally for the rest of the game.

OK, I'm out of the second person. It is tiring to write that way. Anyway, the thoughts that were flying through my head:

- There is no rule to remove your hat for "God Bless America!" The announcer distinctly did not ask everyone to remove their caps.

- How f---ing rude of this guy! He POKED ME IN THE HEAD!

- What kind of reason for doing something is "Well, I was in the military so..."? I appreciate the patriotism of those who have served. However, how does removing one's baseball cap make me more patriotic? And how does being in the military make you the arbiter of all things patriotic?

This little story came to mind again in the last few days, after I saw something on the news that disturbed me. NBC interviewed several soldiers in Iraq who said they were tired of hearing about people that support the troops but don't support the war. They ask, how can you support me and not support the job I am doing?

Well, the answer to that is simple: WE DON'T WANT YOU TO DIE. And I understand that those serving feel that the sacrifice others have made will be in vain if we do not succeed in Iraq. But it will be worse if we know it is hopeless but we dogmatically follow a false notion, that we can actually quell the violence in Iraq. It is the same principle that caused the gentleman at the ballgame to POKE ME IN THE HEAD. Patriotism is not about listening to rules or following orders that others put forth (especially if those rules are in your own head and nowhere else), but following the ideas and goals put forth at the inception of your country. In our case, not only the right to criticize a war, but the right to not be poked in the head.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Orbiting Wristwear

OK, this isn't going to live up to the intellectual rigor of the previous post (was that an actual citation, OptimisticalCynical?), but it's been torquing me for a few weeks now. And all you women out there who read this (all three of you) are going to be laughing that it has finally happened to a guy. Yes, I have found that my body type is not catered to in the fashion world. Apparently, I'm too skinny. For all you women out there who have spent hour upon hour searching for jeans that fit just right, I now feel your pain. My downfall, however, is not denim, but shiny stainless steel. I have had the hardest time finding a watch.

To give you some context, a bit of history: for years, women have wished they had my girlish figure. In fact, in high school, a woman seven inches shorter than me judged her weight based on whether or not she weighed less than I did. And trust me, she looked great; the fault was with me and my Skeletor-like physique. One girlfriend said she liked me because, if we had kids, they would be thin. Well, I have other good qualities too, but that comment stayed with me much longer than any others. For many years, I was concerned about being skinny. Not too concerned, mind you, that I would actually do anything about it, other than eat an occasional CinnaBon, but you know, mindful of it. As I got older, and women started to like me for, God forbid, me, I've cared less and less, to where now I am almost completely comfortable with myself. Except that I now have a belly. But that's neither here nor there...

Anyway, watches. Sorry. So for Christmas, my lovely wife decided that she wanted to get me a watch. However, in her infinite wisdom, she wanted me to pick one out myself. So no problem. We head out to Macy's one day, to look at their watches. They have quite a variety. My only real criteria was that I wanted one with a dark face. It would have been nice to have it be an interesting shape, but I was fixated on contrast. Don't ask me why. We fairly quickly identified several candidates. However, upon closer inspection, on my soda straw wrist each appeared to have the diameter of your average salad plate. If you add in the extreme reflective power of a stainless steel band, it felt like I could have been seen from space.

Apparently, men's watches are all made for bigger men than I can ever hope to be. I realized that this condition is not unlike womens' fashion, where size 00 women are revered as the epitome of feminine beauty. The interesting thing to me, and I'm sure many women also feel this way, is that I don't feel that abnormal. Though I am slender, I'm almost 6 feet tall, which I keep hearing is considered taller than average. I figure the extra height makes up for the lower than average weight, to make me about average. What do the truly little guys do? Are they the ones who wear a Mickey Mouse watch and claim it was given to them when they were four? It's sentimental!

To try to sum this up, we kept looking, and purchased two watches. One of which I returned almost immediately. The other was a titanium watch that had a small face and a dark-toned titanium band. They removed all the links they could. It was still too big. So I returned it, too. After much internet searching, I found a watch I liked, and managed to track it down at my local Sears. Not a place I would have looked for a watch, but hey nobody shops at Sears any more so the service was excellent. The answer? A leather band, with a dark face. It's still big, but doesn't look like it would have its own moon. The only problem is, I have to keep it FOREVER, because my wife doesn't want to go through this again.

Rosie O'Donnell is hypocrite and a killjoy, a defense of casual cruelty, and a pithy, pseudo-flagwaving summation

Rosie O'Donnell is up on her high horse about American Idol now. Ever since she decided to make ridiculous attacks on easy targets, (Donald Trump, American Idol), she has become infinitely more annoying. And putting aside the fact that she's being ridiculous, and making attacks solely to boost the ratings of a show that she's going to be forced off of because she is too annoying, she's just wrong.

As an aside, she's getting a second chance at her own talk show, that much like the first one, no one will watch. This is why she's trying to raise her own profile as the queen of nice. This is ironic, because she once told a woman who once suggested that a subordinate at her magazine and her own mother got cancer because they were liars. "Liars get cancer." No. Moral. High. Horse. Ever. (For fact checking purposes, and to avoid slander allegations:)
Anyway, she's wrong about what America wants, and she's wrong about the culpability of the judges. But moreover, she’s missing the point. this is what we all want to see. This is what we all are. My wife and I had a bunch of people over to watch American Idol last week. It’s a fun, social activity. And what’s the point of it all? You occasionally marvel at the good singers, wonder whether the mediocre singers will make it through, and laugh at the pathetic people who suck. Let me say make that clear, with no shame whatsoever, because I know that all of America (except for the Rosies, and they don’t count) is with me.

I guarantee you that the producers show the bad auditions, because they are the foundation of the early Idol experience. The producers cull out people that are either very good, or startlingly bad. the bad auditions, because too many good ones are boring. they cut out the middling auditions, because they're even worse. All you see is good, bad by accident, and bad on purpose. Because that's what America wants to see. I wouldn't have it any other way.

And everyone knows this coming in. People dress funny so they can get on TV. Bad singers aspire to fame for being bad. they want to be the next William Hung. Everyone wants their 15 minutes, and some of them get it. And it's not at a very high price. The "bush baby" guy and his friends were treated relatively kindly by the judges, considering their performances. And they got to be on Letterman and Good Morning America.

Actually, on the whole, it seems that the judges are being kinder than in previous seasons. A performance that was terrible would have previously gotten an "Awful. You are terrible, never sing again, go die in a fire." Now most of these just merit a "It's a no. I'm sorry sweetheart." The judges are actually holding back a little. Why? The causal cruelty of the judges, especially Simon, was the foundation of the first few seasons. As long as they're not being bigoted, and mocking people solely on their lack of talent, presence, and/or showmanship, I have no problem with it.

People who aren't good should expect to get ripped to pieces by the judges. We're certainly doing it at home. That's part of the fun. If you've ever seen the show, you know what you're in for. You're there to get rich and famous, and if you're not good, you should know by now. So, people go on, and be bad hoping to get ripped, get noticed, and get famous. they know what they're in for.

And for all the poor, deluded people that suck, but think that they're good? You're not. It's willful blindness, or you've been coddled by those around you, who don't have the heart to tell you that you suck. You are the most entertaining of all, because you most often throw my favorite part of the early auditions: the Talentless Tearful Tantrum. the one where you cry, swear at all the judges, the show, and against the deity of your choice. then, you march on, screaming (or stating determinedly) that you'll become rich and famous and that they'll be sorry. Through the tears. So wonderful.

And that's what we love to see. To quote Joe Rogan "If I don't know you, I want to see you fuck up". This schadenfreude is the foundation of reality TV shows. Survivor is all about seeing people suffering in the wilderness, starving, naked and sunburned, while you eat your chips by the TV. The bachelor is more about (women watching a man) eliminating girls that don’t fit in. The Apprentice is about beating your opponents, but also about the consequences when they lose. Hell’s Kitchen exists solely so that I can watch Gordon Ramsey verbally abuse chefs. And it’s beautiful.

American Idol may be the apex of all of this. The beginning is just like a standard reality show. Not just bad singers, but Temper tantrums thrown by people who, all their life, have never been told that they suck. Watching the huge, fragile egos of self important/puffed-up people collapse like a house of cards. Then, once that is over, the show turns into a feel-good happyfest, with no overt competition or backstabbing, or anything. Everyone is nice, or at least civil. Teasing is more about playful banter than actual cruelty. Sometimes, people even get second chances. And then we, America, picks a winner, but the talented losers still get their chance to shine. It’s just how we all imagine life should be. The cruelty in the early auditions are an integral part of that. That's why people like Rosie O'Donnell are wrong. And maybe it’s sick, and maybe it’s cruel, but it’s as American as apple pie. And everyone who’s on the show signed up.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Throwing out challenges - I've got balls

I'm sorry to throw out the first time I'm blogging on here. But I need some help and amusement. So any advice is much appreciated. Oh, and if you want a bit about my disease, I just posted a new blog on my own personal blog which has a very brief description of my disease.

First, I need to get a medical bracelet for my lack-of-platelets condition. OK, seriously, am I 200 years old? The first challenge - can anyone find the ugliest, stupidest looking medical alert bracelet ever? Should I just get a tattoo of myself on my wrist bleeding profusely?

Below is the mascot for my disease. It's from the Platelet Disorder Society ( Seriously, a platelet pal. This is the LAMEST mascot for any disease I have ever seen. The second challenge is for anyone to find a better mascot. I mean, seriously. He should at least have the ability to squirt blood out of his eyes or something.

padPlatelet Pal

Platelet Pal is a great friend to brighten your life. It will be a special friend to anyone but especially someone with low platelets. It comes with a large plastic clip. The clip is great for hanging your Platelet Pal as a decoration in your home or office.

At nine inches tall it makes quite a statement. This guy is guaranteed to raise your spirits and who knows, maybe your platelets. A great gift idea to give yourself or someone you care about. You might like a Platelet Pal for your wall and a Junior Platelet Pal for your keys or vehicle.

I am a day laborer

I may have made this point in previous blogs, but my work situation is much like that of an illegal immigrant day laborer.

Because I am wholly dependednt on other people to assign me work, and those people have, you know, jobs that keep them occupied, I often find myself - like today, for example - totally without anything to do. This sounds like fun, but when you're essentially chained to your desk, waiting for work, it's maddening (plus, we have websense at work, so most fun sites, like games, that I could use to pass the time, are blocked). And since I have already spent part of the day waiting for work doing nothing, company policy says that when I get work, I cannot do any overtime today. So, no extra money. The only thing worse than having too much to do is having nothing, but yet being unable to go home.

So, this is where I am. Running alongside the metaphorical truck, saying "any work for me, boss? Anything? I'm a really hard worker."

Monday, January 15, 2007

Meter Maid Mania

I'm not sure who hires parking enforcers, but they are either so clueless that they are incapable of determining the literacy of their employees, or they are diabolical opportunists who search for the same.

Last night I received a parking ticket. Here is my car in front of the sign that dictates when it is acceptable to park in this space, and when it is not:

I know there is glare off the sign. Here is a closeup of said sign:

Last night was Sunday, January 14th. The ticket was written at 8:39 pm.

Now, this was in Maryland, and I have Virginia plates. The friend I was visiting insists that her ex-boyfriend, a Maryland resident, parked there for months and never received a ticket. So either I got a new meter maid who can't read, or they teach their meter maids to issue tickets to those from out of state expecting that the ticket will not be contested.

Hey Maryland? See you in court.

OkCupid? More like OkStupid...

So how is that in the space of a couple of years I've exhausted my pool of dateable men in the greater metro area? And why is it that I only get contacted by people under the age of 20 or who only have pictures of themselves with their cars (bitchin' camaro!)? And of the few remaning people who don't fall into the two aforementioned categories, well, they're either gun-toting republicans or insist on using "u" for "you". WHY? WHY MUST YOU MOCK ME SO, OKCUPID?

A tip from the ladies: please, keep your shirt on for the pictures, please ACTUALLY SPELL OUT WORDS, and finally, no, your Camaro is NOT bitchin'. Thanks!

It's a federal holiday I tell you!

So, MLK day is a well-recognized federal holiday, for which I had to go to work. Most of the people I want to contact though have the day off. Perhaps I would not have been so generally annoyed this morning if my bosses had not taken the luxury of showing up at 10am or if they had extended their apparent causal Monday memo. to the other people in the office. Or perhaps I just bitter.