08.28.07

INFLATABLE DORSUM PROSTHESIS

Posted in General at 11:43 pm by Eric

It has been called to attention that one of our own will soon be undergoing surgery. I had the opportunity to sit down with him and his wife recently to discus the procedure, possible risks and side effects, and the end result if all goes well. Below is a transcript of the conversation; names, places, and dialogue has been changed to protect me.

Interviewer: Let me start by thanking you both for joining me today. I really appreciate you taking time to walk us through what will be happening.

The couple sits across from me in an oversized red leather loveseat at a local coffee shop. They don’t stop holding hands the entire time I am there. I sit across from them in a high backed chair. The tape recorder sits on the low table in between us.

Gregg: No problem, thank you for inviting us out.

Interviewer: So, what can you tell me about this procedure and why are you undergoing it? I hear its elective, is that true?

Gregg: It is elective, yeah. I kept throwing my back out during…ah…every day activities, and it was beginning to be a real problem. The frequency with which I could…participate… in normal activities was lessening.

Interviewer: So sorry to hear that. No one likes a stiff back.

Gregg: On the contrary, this type of injury eliminates almost all mobility of my back by restricting blood flow to the muscles, thereby rendering them almost completely flacid because of a lack of oxygen. Its so bad now that I can’t even get myself up, from bed or out of my chair, with out help from my wife.

Wife: HOO-YAA!

Interviewer: That sounds awful. I’m surprised you couldn’t take some medication for it. Ibuprofen, for example, is a blood thinner. Shouldn’t that help with the blood flow?

Gregg: Unfortunately the pills only work for about 70% of men with this condition. The next step was local injections, which I also tried, again to no avail.

Interviewer: So then on to surgery. What is the procedure like? How will they correct the condition?

Gregg: Well, its fairly involved. Ultimately the condition is corrected with the implantation of a device that will strengthen and support my back. Its called an Inflatable Dorsal Prosthesis, and it is basically two empty bladders that run the length of my back. They can be inflated when I need that extra stiffness and strength by activating a small pump that will be implanted into my scrotum.

Wife: HOO-YAA!

Interviewer: Scrotum?

Wife: HOO-YAA!

Interviewer: Why would it be implanted…(glance to the wife)…there?

Gregg: Dunno. Seemed like a good place to put it, I guess. Plus I’ve got plenty of room, if you know what I mean.

Wife: HOO-YAA!

Interviewer: Indeed. So, if all goes well, and I’m sure it will, when will you be able to resume normal activities? Will there be a noticeable drop in performance compared to your pre-injury days?

Gregg: Well, doctors say my back will never have the stiffness that I had before I got hurt, but hey, we’re not 16 anymore, are we?

Interviewer: Certainly not.

Gregg: Rhetorical question. Any how, there shouldn’t be much of a drop in performance. I should be as good as new around two weeks after the surgery, and should have the green light for all normal activities within a week after that.

Interviewer: Wonderful news. I’m so glad to hear it. If you don’t mind my asking, how did you hurt your back in the first place?

Wife: AAAAA HOOOOO-YAAAAAA!

The Tortoise and the Hare

Posted in General at 11:41 pm by Eric

Once upon a time in a kingdom far, far away there was a very special school. It was a school for animals. All kinds of animals went to this special school for many different reasons.

Some of the animals were wild, some of the animals were loud, some of the animals were meek, but the one thing they all had in common was that they all had a hard time paying attention in class.

These animals all had Behavioral Attention Deficit Disorder, or BADD, for short. All of the mommy and daddy animals loved their kids very much and wanted to do whatever it took to see them succeed. The daddies would have extra study lessons with their kids to make sure they understood the homework assignments. The mommies would take their kids out to special events if they did well in classes. But none of this seemed to work. The mommies and daddies understood that whatever they did, they still had BADD kids.

At the school there were two friends named Hare and Tortoise. Hare and Tortoise always felt a little out of place because neither one had problems concentrating in class, and neither called too much attention to himself on the playground. Both understood the material just fine, but somehow, both were only C students.

Hare, who always sat in the back of the class (the teacher wanted the wild animals up front) could never see the blackboard where the teacher was writing, so he often zoned out until it was time to do homework, or take a test. Unfortunately for Hare, his test scores suffered because he had never seen the questions worked through before, and had to try to understand how to answer them from what he remembered hearing the teacher say.

Tortoise, who sat near the front of the classroom was brilliant. He was by far the quickest kid in the room. But Tortoise became bored quickly with the lesson plans the teacher was using, and would make smart elicky comments which would throw the class into an uproar. The teacher had no choice but to place Tortoise up front to try to control his interrupting remarks. Tortoise stopped taking the class seriously and soon stopped caring all together about tests and grades.

Both Hare and Tortoise’ parents were at a loss. Their children seemed to demonstrate that they understood the material quite easily when they were at home, and the mommies and daddies didn’t notice any unusual behavioral problems exhibited by either one. No matter what the parents tried, it seemed as thought Tortoise and Hare just didn’t want to stop being BADD kids.

One day a doctor passed through town with an idea that might help out all the parents with BADD children. He had discovered a leaf that, when eaten, could sometimes help the children focus more during school and homework time. Of course all of the parents wanted their kids to focus more, so they paid the doctor what little money they had for his help.

The doctor told the parents that each little animal was different and special, so naturally the number of leaves that each little animal would have to eat would be different as well. He recommended that the animals start by eating three leaves in the morning, and then three leaves again when they got home from school. After a week of this routine the parents, teachers, and the doctor would reevaluate the little animals on a case by case basis and decide whether or not the dosage was working, and whether or not it should be changed.

Well, the first week in school after all the BADD kids started eating their leaves was crazy. Some of the wildest little animals stopped moving all together, and some of the animals who weren’t too wild, but had a hard time following what the teacher was talking about just turned mean. It all came to a head one afternoon on the playground. Hare, who was usually docile and nice had turned into a bully, and became extremely competitive. Tortoise’ mind, which had been the sharpest in class, was now very cloudy. Tortoise found it difficult to grasp any concept the teacher was trying to convey. During recess that day Hare challenged Tortoise to a race.

First one round the track wins” shouted Hare, “the looser gives up his lunch money for a week!

“Uhh,” said Tortoise, not sure what to do, “I’ll…try…my…best,”

A group of students had gathered around the two friends at the start/finish line. They started taking bets on who would be the winner. Gretel Goat counted down from ten and then shouted go.

Hare was off like a shot, in almost an instant he was at the first turn, then the second, then the third. Then something shiny caught his eye. It was in the middle of the field around which they were running. He veered off the track and found a nickel sitting in the grass. He picked it up, looked at it, then quickly abandoned it having seen a butterfly land a short distance away. Then, after the butterfly flew off, Hare found a cool rock which he put in his pocket and ran home to show his mommy and daddy.

Meanwhile, Tortoise started off down the track. When Tortoise got to the first turn, he became confused. Unable to decide what to do Tortoise became scared and embarrassed and tucked his head and feet into his shell. He stayed there until recess was over and all the kids had left.

Later that month, after Hare, Tortoise, and all the other kids had been on their leaves for a few weeks, the doctor announced publicly that the leaves were working wonderfully and that the wild little animals’ parents should continue purchasing the doctor’s special leaves to ensure their kids success later on in life.

The End

08.17.07

Put your ego where your mouth is.

Posted in General at 11:48 am by Eric

Nathan and I have decided to leave our jobs and become amateur food critics with contrasting opinions. While we most likely won’t get paid for a few years, we will be spending plenty of time and money eating. Seems like a water tight plan to us.

Our first restaurant to be critiqued is called the XXX Burger Joint and Gentleman’s Club.

As we pull up to the restaurant the first thing we see is a half dozen ’57 Chevy lowriders and a dozen Ducati super bikes lining the street and into the parking lot. Points are immediately awarded for a kick ass atmosphere. Atop the restaurant is a twenty five foot tall neon sign of a root beer keg with the letters XXX, six feet tall and flashing yellow. Points for class. Inside is a zoo; Beach Boys blasting from loudspeakers, every square inch of wall, counter, and ceiling is filled with iconic pictures, news paper clippings, and other goofy memorabilia from half a century ago. Minus one point for moderately annoying decorum. There is no place to stand and wait to be seated, they don’t accept credit or debit card, and the only counter that looks like you could order at is deserted. Minus points for service. Up comes a shorter Latin dude with a Mohawk that turns into a rat tail. Points for style.

“Do you have one of those crazy huge burgers that, if you eat all of it, its on the house?” I ask him.

“We have one, but even if you finish it, you still pay for it” He answers.

“What’s it called?”

“The XXX”

“Right. I’ll have that one.” Mine is a burger with three half pound patties, bacon, cheese, onions, lettuce and tomatoes. Nathan orders the Ford Roadster, a burger topped with chili and jalapeños. We each order an extra large glass of home made XXX Root Beer and go outside to the patio. The benches are actually strippers on their hands and knees, and the tables are slabs of granite balanced on strippers doing “The Bridge”. Every so often a fresh stripper will come over and seamlessly replace one of the girls who is starting to get tired. This is, evidently, the Gentleman’s Club part of the XXX Restaurant. Points for originality.

Small talk about the day, the restaurant, and the strippers helps pass the very short time that we wait before the food comes. Nathan receives his sizable “burger” which is completely drowned in chili. You wouldn’t know there was a burger under there if you didn’t order it yourself.

And I receive the XXX Burger. If you would, readers, stick your right hand out in front of you, fingers down so that your palm is facing you and your finger tips are touching the table or whatever surface your computer is resting on. Now stick your thumb out perpendicular to your fingers, and parallel to the surface your computer rests on. The distance from your thumb to the table is the height of my burger. Now, with your hand level again, stretch your thumb and pinkie as far away from each other as you can. That is approximately the diameter of my burger. Those are the dimensions of the XXX Burger from the XXX Burger Joint and Gentleman’s Club. Which I demolish. Which I destroy. Which I make my own personal bitch. With no exaggeration, readers, I finish the burger well before Nathan has made any sizable dent in his, and its about this time that I get a little cocky.

Before the “server” (Mohawk- rat tail boy) has a chance to ask about our food, I ask if the XXX Burger really is the biggest burger made here.

“Go walk around the block once because I’m about to bring you out a second burger, and you damn well better finish all of it.”

Oh sh!t

Even before he orders it, I know I’m sunk. I can tell I’m more than half full, I can tell that another burger is a sure fire way to make me go blind from meat poisoning, or turn the parking lot filled with its custom hot rods and Italian street fighters into a vomitorium. But I can’t back down; I just called the server, the cook, the restaurant, and most of all the XXX Burger a worthless waste of space, and they are all about to hit back.

I need a strategy. I do the only thing I can think of; I start walking and belching, trying to clear enough room to fit another burger the size of Myriam Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language. I sit back down at the strippers and begin to meditate. I clear my mind of everything but the intention of not losing. My supper or the foolish challenge. Out comes the burger and oh my God I’m screwed. Its even bigger than the first. I know I’ve got to eat fast, my stomach is already telling me I’m full and don’t even think of-

But I do it any way. I start to pound it as fast and as furiously as I can. First the edges, they are easy because they are mostly bread and bacon. Then towards the middle, and certain doom.

Things went a little hazy after that, I don’t remember many details. I remember not being able to look at my food without gagging. I remember Nate shouting at me, telling me something about powder chewing which didn’t make any sense. I remember my brother Justin suddenly appeared out of nowhere and started giving me encouragement. In the end, though, I was defeated. So sat the burger, a full third of it uneaten on my plate looking smug as anything I’ve ever seen. This is quite possibly the first time since I turned ten years old that I haven’t been able to finish all my food, and probably the last time for a long time that I attempt to eat two consecutive XXX Burgers from the XXX Burger Joint and Gentleman’s Club.

To the restaurant I give three out of five stars for style, decorum, and originality; to the server and all of his coolness I give four out of five stars for not backing down from a challenge, a cool Mohawk rat tail, and for not charging me for the last burger; and to the food, I give zero stars, because f@(k the burger who f@(ks me.

My sincerest apologies to friends and family let down tonight by my failure.

06.05.07

Corvettes Chipotle Cops

Posted in General at 4:51 am by Eric

A story about my day:

Why is it that the only people we see driving Corvettes are 50+ year old men? And why is it that they drive so damn slowly all the time?

I know the answer

Yesterday I went to visit my cousin’s newborn twins. Ryder and Angela were premature by 6 weeks and were so small that when they were swathed in blankets to keep warm they were about the size of Chipotle burritos. So for the first few weeks of life they were affectionately referred to as, yes, the burritos. 5 months and almost quadruple their birth weight later, yesterday, I met them for the first time. Adorable by every account.

Funny little consequence of having twins; not too much time to drive your Lingenfelter Corvette. What does Lingenfelter mean? Its the last name of a guy named John who, for one reason or another, thought that ridiculously fast cars just weren’t fast enough and decided to do something about that. He is the Carol Shelby for GM, if that makes any sense to anybody.

Lingenfelter

And so sat the 04 Vette, unused and unloved as I walked up the driveway to Todd and Tanya’s new house in Shorewood, MN. On my way back out of the house after the visit, I commented on the beautiful machine to Todd, to which he replied “Any time you want, Eric. Come take it, it needs to be driven”. Baaazing!

Wasting no time I texted Tanya this morning as I woke up. “What up. I somehow got a date for tonight and I was wonder if I could borrow a car. Sorry to bother ya”. Not true. But it worked. I picked the car up at 11:00 AM and was moseying around town before noon. Today was stormy; heavy rain if it wasn’t drizzling, which it was most of the day up until about 6 pm. As the evening set in, the clouds finally broke and the streets began to dry. Nice.

Note: The Vette has a heads up display. That means that the speed, tach, gear selection, oil pressure, engine temp, and fuel level are projected onto the windshield so the driver doesn’t have to look away from the road for such vital info.

My first sprint was along a long, flat, quite road by the MN river, just to get a taste of what she could do. A rolling start, about 5 mph, and mash the pedal to the ground. Oh my good lord. The engine is absolutely deafening, and the acceleration- it feels like a roller coaster, but faster. I’m pressed hard to the back of the seat, I can feel my cheeks pull towards my ears, and then off the gas. Only now do I think to look at the heads up display; 90 mph. Huh, I’m not surprised to see that number, but at the same time, I only had the pedal down for like 5 seconds. So of course I turn around and do it again, this time I keep an eye on the rpm and speed. Again I’m thrown to the back of the seat, but this time I watch the speedo almost comically try to keep up with the acceleration. I hold it for a moment longer; 114.

The only thing I can think is “What the fu#k am I driving?!?” so I go home to wikilearn.

Here’s what I found

A normal 2004 Corvette makes about 385 bhp (horsepower measured at the engine before power is lost to the gearbox, generator, differential, water pump, etc). A Z06 (the performance package) from 04 claimed 405 bhp. The Z06 was driven 0-60 by Car and Driver in 3.9 seconds. But I wasn’t driving a Z06. I was driving a Lingenfelter modified Corvette making almost 500 bhp, dynoing over 450 bhp at the wheels. 100 bhp makes one hell of a difference in a car made out of tissue paper and matchsticks. Learning accomplished.

And so I eat some dinner. Bow tie noodles with a creamy mushroom sauce and some sauteed shrimp. Delish.

Now I’m out to a small devotional gathering followed by a surprise birthday party. I give some rides to people, up and down a backstreet. The car needs about 2 blocks to hit 100 and back down enough to make a sharp left hand curve. I have many witnesses, for those of you who doubt. I give Celest Finn a ride to the tobacco shop, and then to the grocery store. We hit 135 mph on 94 West briefly and turn around back to the apartment, not dropping below 115 mph until the exit.

Its starting to be clear why young guys don’t need 500 bph

On Mondays, some of my boys and I go to Buffalo Wild Wings for $1 kids menu night. We get 4 boneless wings and a side of fries for a dollar. We usually spend $2 and fill up pretty quickly. Today Eddy Glen and Ben Hartin came along after the surprise party, following me in Ben’s cavalier.

This is where the story starts to get good.

We come to a stop at a light (the intersection of 4 and 5 for those of you who know the area). I’m at the front in the left lane. Behind me is Ben and Eddy. To my right is some random car. Behind the random car to my right stops a cop. I didn’t see him, or I sure as shit wouldn’t have done what I did next.

Green light and I’m gone. Full throttle the whole way 60, 80, 100, 115 on the heads up and then I see the cherries.

fuck

FUCK

I stand on the breaks and pull over as quickly as I can. I can’t believe I just more than doubled a highway speed limit right in front of a cop. I have plenty of time to think about this because it actually takes some time for the cop to catch up and pull behind me. I’m starting to shake because I know I’m screwed; MN law says double posted hwy limits means a couple things.

1st: Attempted manslaughter
2nd: Reckless endangerment
3rd: Immediate revocation of license
4th: Car is impounded
5th: You go to jail
6th: One hell of a speeding ticket

I turn off the engine, turn on the hazards and inside lights, roll down my window, keep my hands visible. Up comes an officer to my window and another waits behind my car. Another cop car pulls in front of my car, blocking any escape I may have tried.

“Hi!” say the cop

hi?

“I’m soooo sorry, officer”

“License, registration, and insurance please”. Officer is smiling, a little.

“I’m sooo sorry. This isn’t even my car”

“Who’s car is it?”

I hand him my license and start fumbling through the glove box. “Its my cousin’s, sir. He just had twins and needs someone to drive it once in a while”.

“You didn’t see me back there, did you?”

“I didn’t see you at all, where were you?”

“One car behind and to the right” He was sitting next to Ben and Eddy

“That must have looked ridiculous, me taking off like that”

Now Officer is grinning. “Sit tight, I’ll be back in a bit”

Good. Very good. I’m not in handcuffs or a cop car yet. I’m beginning to brace myself though. Trying to focus on how I’ll make it without a license for the next year.

Meanwhile Ben and Eddy have pulled into the next street and turned around, waiting for me to finish up.

Back comes the cop, ticket in hand. “I’m going to let you off easy today, because its not your car”

Easy? Like I get to keep my license? He hands me back the insurance and reg. “I’m giving you a ticket for exhibition driving. Its not a moving violation so it won’t go on your record. I’m also writing it to the city code, and not the state, so there is no court appearance. Just call this number,” he points to a phone number written on the back of the ticket envelope, “and read them the citation number”

I can’t believe what I’m hearing. I want to cry and dance at the same time. “Thank you sooo much” He hands me my license

“You said this was your brother’s car?”

“Cousin’s”

“Well, I don’t think your cousin would appreciate you tearing his car up like this. Maybe you should slow down a little.”

“Yes sir, I will sir. I’d hug you if I wasn’t sure I’d go to jail for leaving my car”

He shakes my hand and walks away.

So why is it that only old men drive Corvettes, and so very painfully slowly? Because everyone else is already in jail or on a public bus by now.

Except me.

10.29.06

Mandatory Man Movie Night

Posted in General at 10:01 pm by Eric

A Man Movie: Every so often a movie is made that speaks to a man’s soul. A movie so poignant it rearranges the priorities representing who and what that man strives to be. A movie so revolutionary it speaks to a man as only his personal thoughts have before. This is a Man Movie, this is what we are celebrating. Naturally the movies differ from man to man, but certain qualities manifest themselves consistently from movie to movie. While outwardly these qualities may be difficult to distinguish, their similarities are perhaps more easily identifiable by eliminating that which is intrinsically antonymous to what it means to be a man. Man Movies are not senselessly violent, they do not champion the objectification of women, and are not in line with the adulation of automobiles. The Man Movie represents the modern man; a suave, sophisticated specimen actuated to achieve autonomy.

The Mandatory Man Movie Night is an age old tradition started by me last month. Aimed specifically at those who have missed opportunities to explore movies relegated by the capricious sex, my hope is that Mandatory becomes a staple of weekend entertainment, even if it’s just once a month.

Mandatory Man Movie Night:

It’s not compulsory for men to attend

And all the ladies are welcome

But on this night we watch awesome movies

And don’t take no guff from the Betties

10.22.06

Hypocrisy

Posted in General at 3:25 pm by Eric

Hypocrisy: The act of pretending or claiming to have beliefs, feelings, morals, or virtues that one does not truly possess or practice.

Belonging to a Faith called Bahá’í, phrases such as, “chaste and holy life”, “rectitude of moral conduct”, and “purity of mind” represent the unobtainable standard by which we Bahá’ís are held. I say unobtainable because we have been taught from an early age that there is only one perfect example against whom we measure ourselves, and if there is only one perfect example then everyone else must be imperfect, such as they are. So the imperfect are left with the inalienable duty of propagating perfection. The most convincing way of teaching is to represent that which you teach, therefore the best way to teach perfection is to become as close to it as possible. Sound like Sunday school last week? And the week before?

But why, if we know ourselves to be imperfect, and we know for a fact that everyone else is too, are our flaws and shortcomings such taboo subjects amongst the rest of the Bahá’í community? Why would we parade around fronting unstained faces to Bahá’ís and feeling shocked when they don’t return the same unsullied glances to us?

Now, I’m not discounting the notion that we all must strive for perfection, and I am forever grateful that we are commanded to overlook each other’s imperfections, but at what point does overlooking turn to denial? Bahá’ís face and succumb to the same pressures that everybody else faces, but few acknowledge the internal problems as anything more than Bahá’ís not taking the Faith seriously. The casual observer might add that it is not our place to judge what a man does, that it is only God’s to do that. Let me clarify; I am not looking for a mass confession, nor am I expecting that people wear their mistakes on their sleeves. I am only looking for accountability from the Friends. But not in the way one might expect. I wonder why my Bahá’í friend who had a baby out of wedlock didn’t feel comfortable enough during her pregnancy to tell anyone until after the baby was born. I’m wondering why my friends who drink alcohol deny it outright when asked. Which is worse? “Living the life” in all of its ups and downs, including making mistakes, or lying to LSAs, and counselors etc. when the mistakes are made. Obviously, it would seem, that lying is the more grievous of the two errors, but most choose this option when pressed.

I submit that Bahá’ís lie about their mistakes not because they are embarrassed by them, or because they are ashamed of themselves for making the mistakes, but because within the Faith there is no support for those who err, that is to say, the culture of the Bahá’í community is such that it is unforgiving to those who digress from standards understood to be impossible to maintain. This I feel is the main conduit of hypocrisy in the Bahá’í Faith.

10.20.06

To write

Posted in General at 2:31 pm by Eric

A picture is worth a thousand words- but just one poem can express more than a thousand pictures ever could.  To understand the boundaries and limitations of writing is to understand your own capacity, and to push those boundaries is to whet and tune your mind.  But the writer/reader relationship is inherently a one-sided conversation.  Therefore I invite anyone with even the slightest hankerin’ to respond to these posts with their own opinions and ideas, that we both might have the opportunity to grow and develop.  My ideas aren’t perfect, and yours clearly aren’t either 😉 but through the art of discourse we both have the opportunity to leave confused and wanting closure.
 

 

1st entry

Posted in General at 12:32 pm by Eric

Hello all and welcome to the internet.

I’ve never done this before.  Nobody has, to my knowledge.  So as you read on keep this in mind;

Keep your expectations low, and you’ll never be dissapointed.

Say Hello to Jakrabt

Posted in General at 10:42 am by ESmith

Bookmark this site, because Eric will be writing some fantastic material. 

-Greg