A Twist Of Fate
September, 2009 Entries
"If looks can kill, can they also resuscitate?"

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(09/30/09 - 11:06 PM)
Wanda and I finished the "Firefly" series tonight, and were sorely disappointed (like alot of other fanboys and girls) that Fox elected to cancel this show.

The show is simple, yet well written. There were a ton of storylines set up, and a number of unanswered questions which was just disappointing. I think this was a series that could have gone the distance, but it was euthanized before it had the chance (the last three episoded never even aired.) And the cast had a good balance and chemistry that you don't see often enough these days.

Still, I'll have them on DVD and I'll be thankful for some, rather than none at all. And I've got the "Serenity" movie on order...

(09/28/09 - 3:48 PM)
I just got home from work at a normal hour once more, so I figured that since I'm so far behind on this I ought to at least pop my day's highlights in before I forget them once again.

As I left work, I saw a little bird on the sidewalk about forty feet away. It was half-bent over and was staring at me side-long, as birds are designed to do. I giggled, and watched for a few moments as it pecked the ground several times in rapid succession. It looked like some sort of finch, based on the coloration. I laughed once more at the simple entertainment happening before me.

Then, I realized that I had been watching a leaf the whole time, and I felt stupid.

As I left the parking lot, I saw some Union guys across the street. They were working on something for the business over there, and I noted that there were three men. One man was threading a pipe manually, as opposed to using a motorized pipe threader. The other two were doing a bang-up job of watching him.

I waited, and watched. And so did they.

Ladies and Gentlemen, your dollars hard at work.

I got home and found in my mailbox a yellow card. On the front, it had simply my name and address, as well as some arcane codes.

On the back, it read 'Service Notice' in huge red letters, and there were three check boxes:

  • 1st Attempt
  • 2nd Attempt
  • Final Attempt

Guess which one was checked?

Below this were three more check boxes:

  • Please call us at your earliest convenience regarding your account.
  • Please call us at your earliest convenience regarding your FREE* video/DVD. Your call is required upon delivery.
  • Please call us at your earliest convenience regarding service in your area.

My guess is that's it's made to look like a possible notice from the post office, from a utility provider, or Lord knows what. I think it's meant to be both confusing and ambiguous, or else no one in their right mind would call.

Oh, did I forget to mention the number? Please, let me finish imparting what was on the card:

For additional information call 1-800-755-8329 (20 Or Older Only) *Does not include S/H

Neat, huh?

If anyone gets curious and bothers to call, e-mail me what in the hell it is, will ya?

(09/19/09 - 7:56 PM)
Today I saw something so cute-dorable I just had to share. Frolicking around in my backyard was a baby squirrel, no longer than 6". And he was CUTE with a capital 'Awww!'

As I have mentioned before, squirrels have been a rarity around my home ever since I moved in. A sighting was rare, but this year they are clearly about the place.

Personally, I have no qualms with them. I grew up with them everywhere, and actually welcome them to my ever-growing menagerie of cute and fuzzy critters that end up as hawk and owl food. We've got those too, which I don't mind a bit either. Circle of life, and all that.

(09/18/09 - 9:13 PM)
It's been a busy week at work, to say the least. Not only did I work a 40 hour week for the first time since I don't remember when, I even got into some unavoidable overtime.

Orders and quotes are suddenly pouring in from the four corners of the globe, and I wonder how long it will last this time. We've had two such major upswings since this economic powerdive began, so until I see constancy in the market, I cannot - and will not - call it an upturn.

Don't get me wrong, I'd like to.

This week was even more irritating due to the fact that my assistant was very ill, and when she took time off, my other assistant came in to fill in for her and she was very ill. This meant that I was surrounded by germs, but also that their ability to do work in a timely and accurate manner greatly diminished in direct proportion to their state of well being.

As such, I felt like I was going to pop for most of the week - not out of anger, but out of stress. I was intending to work withing the initial constraints set down by my Boss (i.e. - a 35 hour week and no more, per the usual of late) and as such I felt compelled to fret every time something new hit my horizon. Because time wasn't getting any more plentiful.

(09/17/09 - 9:32 PM)
It's been a banner week for converting movies and television to iPod format. I've forced myself to be dilligent about it, running them every waking moment, and setting them up before work and before bed.

As I work my way through them, I feel a sense of accomplishment that makes no real sense, but it's exciting to think that soon I will have a colossal media library that I can take with me anywhere. That's exciting to me.

Already, I've converted over 500 movies, seventeen television series, and I'm about to break the 30,000 song mark today. I've been buying up albums of the day on-line, finding used CD's on-line, buying CD's in Madison and just plain ordering music that fill the holes in my collection, though fewer and fewer they may be.

This month, I broke down and decided to fulfill a years-long desire of mine to be able to play classic country hits just like the dwindling radio stations in the U.S. still do. I've stocked up on all the greats - and some of the not so greats - and that dream comes closer to reality each day.

I don't know what it is that has always drawn me to this music, but I will say that above all else, this is the music in my life that has always stuck with me. It's comforting, it's simple, and it's sincere if not a bit jovial at times.

It reminds me that as long as folks are listening to this sort of music, good people are out there somewhere in the world. And this gives me some semblance of hope.

I just wish it weren't a dwindling number of folks, and further wish there were more young people like me around to carry the torch on to the next generation.

(09/16/09 - 11:04 PM)
Our houseguest has gone ninja on finding a new job. She's had one interview with a restaurant that's twice the one she works at now, and she's been promised part-time work to start. So, it's a beginning.

She's learning a great deal from us (who have gone all Yoda on her about all things business) and seems to be much more comfortable around us now.

Conversely, we've grown somewhat accustomed to her. She's non-invasive to a fault, and it doesn't seem like a burden, so much as an oddity having her around. I think that if our house were big enough, we might even be able to keep her around a bit longer than we intended. But, in the end, there's only so much you can do without turning your whole life upside-down.

We just want so desperately for her to be the 1% who breaks out of her situation, makes it, and then succeeds.

(09/13/09 - 12:07 PM)
And now, a special Sunday installment of 'Heath Tries To Be Funny!'

A policeman receives a call on his radio about a possible domestic disturbance in his vicinity. He responds, and makes his way to the location referenced in the call.

Upon his arrival, there is a female midget in the front yard. She is sitting down, and holding her head which has several swollen and bloody gashes in it.

The officer takes her statement, and then radios for backup. "Dispatch, I have a midget-woman here who has been assaulted with three cans of Old Milwaukee to the head, and is bleeding. I need another officer, and roll EMT's to the scene please."

Within moments, a second police cruiser rolls up and an overweight officer gets out, and runs up to the responding officer. "I got here as soon as I could!"

The officer seems surprised at his promptness, and states such, "Joe, in all the years I've worked with you, I've never seen you move so fast, what gives?"

Without hesitating, the other officer responds, "When I heard you had found yourself beer-battered shrimp, I drove as fast as I could."

(09/12/09 - 8:13 PM)
Went to Madison today for a long overdue oil change. It's hard to get one when your hospitalized and/or aren't allowed to drive.

We hit the beltline, and every lane of traffic was doing about three miles per hour. So, we took a side road into the city center and called the dealership to let them know what was up.

We finally got there - ten minutes late - and told the guy that it was our fault for being late (even though we actually left ten minutes earlier than necessary), so take his time.

We walked about five blocks to a used book store, where I proceeded to raid their dollar CD bin as per usual (great haul this time!) I walked away with some 35 CD's for a whopping $35.00 and filled some major and minor holes in my now massive hoard of music. How cool is that?

Wanda found some recently-discontinued print and video software (normally about $60.00 a pop) and got them for $10.00 each. She also found a deeply-discounted Spanish application with some 10 CD's and DVD's for something like $6.00.

Man, I love Madison.

(09/11/09 - 11:06 PM)
I didn't need to go to the grocery store today, so I stopped by my Dad's house to drop some things off, and then went to get some more cologne at the local Walgreens.

I walked in, and ambled on over to the cologne counter. Within a minute, a sixteen-something, corpulent female teen lumbered in my direction. I can't say how I knew that she was inattentive, but it was clear her mind was on other things.

She stopped in front of me, turned around to look at something, and as she did so, she absent-mindedly fixed her panties inside her pants under her shirt. There was alot of finger manipulation involved, and nothing was showing - I just could tell what she was doing.

When she was good and done, she turned around and once more and continued to scarcely acknowledge my presence. But then she said, "Can I help you with something?"

Now, what was most interesting about this was her tone. I was taken a bit aback, because what she was really saying was, 'I've been standing here for almost a minute now, and you still haven't told me what you want'.

Apparently, as soon as she got within earshot, I was to announce to her what I required, even as she turned her back and fixed her undies.


I was in too good a mood to be too pissed, so I very politely said, "Yes. I would like one of the large, Drakkar sprays just there, please."

I reached across the counter, and pointed to the precise box that I desired.

She sighed, squatted, and opened the cabinet. Total elapsed time: eight seconds.

"What did you want, again?" she says, clearly annoyed.

I once again re-iterated my desired purchase, and she pointed to it. "This one?"

Oh, Heaven help me. I acknowledged in the affirmative, but also added, "It is a spray, correct?"

"Yep," she says without so much as a glance toward the box.

So, I check it myself, pay for the thing, and get the hell out of there without so much as another word from her.

She's going to go far, that one.

(09/10/09 - 9:12 PM)
So far, this week has been interesting. I've never been so happy to be at work. Seriously, it's an absolute joy compared to sitting at home, drugged and pained and doing nothing. How addicts do it, I'll never understand.

We began the week with a miniscule amount of work, but it quickly escalated to 40% more than when it began. So for the moment, all is well. Plus, we have a major-league machine build on Monday's horizon that should keep us staffed and then some for another week or two minimum, without anything more coming in the door.

No matter how bleak this year has seemed at times, we always get just enough at just the right times. It's been something of a miracle, given the economic climate and its effects on our competitors, but we're all grateful for what we have. Because it could be much, much worse.

I've beein in minor pain on and off this week, but my co-workers have looked out for me like a lost puppy. It's kind of them to worry so much, and it hasn't gone unappreciated. Everyone has pitched in, and yelled at me when I try and do things - which is alot nicer than it might seem to the outside observer.

(09/08/09 - 11:03 PM)
I finished Janet Evanovich's latest, "Finger Lickin' Fifteen" tonight, and I think the few reviews I read were spot-on.

The reviews read, in a nutshell, "It's all been done, and it's been done better, and it's been done to death."

Yes, it's funny. Yes, it's predictable. But it's wearing a bit thin, truth be told. Each of her latest books feel like a rehash of the last, where only the names change but the events are the same. Which is sad, because all she has to do is inject SOMETHING new into the mix each time, and she would probably retain all of her voracious readers for life.

The key to her works are their simplicity and their length. Like Patterson (who I despise), her works are a short diversion with a funny premise. The problem now is that it feels like deja-vu from a bad family vacation.

C'mon Janet - you can do better.

(09/07/09 - 10:13 PM)

I Still Don't Like George Bush. If He Runs Again, Just Let Them Eat Me.

(09/06/09 - 12:03 AM)
I just finished watching a show about Montana and it brought about a yearning in me that comes and goes periodically with no rhyme or reason. A yearning for a simpler time; a simpler life. A life of walking in high meadows where the only sounds are birds and insects coupled with ones' reflective thoughts, pensive though they may be. A life punctuated by nothing less mundane than simple, hearty meals and waking up in the morning. A life of hard work and exhaustion being the rewards hard won for another stolen day of life.

This yearning is unquenchable, as I will never attain the fiscal freedom to indulge it, yet I cannot help but long for it nonetheless. How I often consider simply walking away from the life that I lead, and have always known to indulge in the utter simplicity of not knowing what the next day might bring, nor how one intends to struggle through it so as to survive.

This is my passion and regret, coupled seamlessly in a blissful marriage of opposition. This is where I belong, yet will most likely never have the courage to venture. This is my unspoken vow, never uttered and permanently fettered by the life that binds me with each sobering, waking moment.

Someday, perhaps, I will have the courage or means to annhilate it. Until then, I merely dream; a thief of thoughts that do not belong to me, in a game of personal legerdemaine and chicanery of mind that will never be unbroken.

This is my prison, and my hope. From pragmatism to maudlin in a matter of seconds.

(09/05/09 - 12:09 PM)
I got up late today, after sleeping some 11 hours once more (I've been doing that alot lately, but not by choice.) I showered, shaved so as to lose some of the hobo-chic look I've aquired in the past few days, and then went downstairs to do the dishes. While Wanda cleaned the house (she's so great) I cleaned out the refrigerators and tidied up a few things.

After grooming my long-neglected plants throughout the yard, including the trees, I tended to my now more than patheti-sad deck garden. I picked some of my peppers, and decided that they looked too good not to eat one. The problem is that I have three plants in one pot - one is a super-hot variety, while the others are a mild variety. The problem lies in the fact that they look precisely the same.

I hadn't really remembered this, until my mouth started blazing and I realized my mistake. I had picked from three plants, and the one pepper I had elected to eat had come from the hot one. My mouth is still on fire as I write this, and my stomach is in no shape for this kind of assault as of yet.

Maybe next time I'll think more before I act.

Also as an aside, I was talking to my Dad on the phone the other day when I saw something out of the corner of my eye. It was a squirrel, which as I have mentioned before is something of a rarity around these parts, who was interested in the very said-same plants mentioned above. I watched as he sauntered up to the pot, sat up on his haunches and placed his paws on the rim, and took a big sniff. You could see that he was all but ready to take one of the peppers, but something stopped him cold.

The moral of the story? A squirrel is smarter than me for not eating those things.

(09/04/09 - 10:08 PM)
Last visit to the doctor today. The CT scan came back normal (hooray! no more leakage!) She's cleared me to work again, even though she wanted me to take another week off. I told her that unless she would pay my wages, I really didn't want to do that. So, she released me for Tuesday, with the notion that I would take it easy.

In other news, my wife has been tapped to produce a web site for a political candidate (how cool is that?)

You can view it as it comes to fruition at www.electjimthompson.com.

(09/03/09 - 8:16 PM)
Went and had another CT scan today, to address the bile leak in my abdomen. I'll find out tomorrow whether the leak has been stopped by my bodies' proverbial plumbing crew.

Mom has been great in volunteering (read: insisting) in driving me to and from the doctor. I think it makes her feel better about all the time I've spent doing things for her; like she can give something back. As such, I haven't really argued the point as vociferously as I otherwise might.

I also got my first (and hopefully last) taste of barium contrast fluid. This stuff is so foul, and so thick and gross, that I thought I was going to hurl from the moment I drank it. Seriously, avoid this stuff at all costs.

In the waiting room, I ran into a friend of one of my co-workers who I was loosely aquainted with. He recognized me, and mentioned that my co-worker had mentioned that I had recently had my gall bladder out. He said it was ironic, as he had just had the same thing done. Apparently, it's all the rage these days.

(09/02/09 - 7:23 PM)
Got home from the hospital this afternoon - again. I was once again admitted for the evening, but let me back up for a moment.

At 9:00 PM on Monday night, I felt uncomfortable. I figured I was just sitting funny, and the drugs were bothering me again. By 11:00 PM I started to grow more concerned, as my discomfort increased in communion with my pain. I tried to go to bed, but laying down clearly was a bad idea. The pain intensified, so I sat up in the chair in the living room, trying to get comfortable. No matter how I moved or sat, the pain simply increased.

By 2:30 I had tried to lay down once more, and I finally realized that the pain was escalating to a point that I probably could not tolerate. I woke my poor wife, and tried to get her to let me take myself to the E.R. She was having none of it, no matter how much I plead my case, and we ended up in the E.R. at about a quarter to three in the morning.

I was hyperventilating by this time, and everything felt numb with the exception of my lower-right abdomen which felt like it had a rabid squirrel running laps in there.

The nurse took one look at me, and got me right in. I was shown to a room, gowned, and an RN came in to get me calmed down. She tried to IV me in five different places, but the hyperventilation apparently causes the veins to constrict (this I didn't know). As such, I now have quite the collection of bruises up and down my arms and hands and look like a hard-core heroin user.

She finally got some Atavan into me, and then whacked me up with some pain killer. For whatever reason, I could not control my breathing still. It got so bad that my mouth became a tight hole that would not form words, so I found myself speaking with a tongue and jaw that would not move, through a hole that would not constrict to form words. It was all rather comical, in hindsight, and was one of the strangest experiences of my life.

The ER Doctor finally came in, and let the asshole in him shine on through. This was the first time I had had a bad experience with a high-level caregiver in this facility. He asked why I hadn't called my Surgeon, instead of just coming into the E.R. I explained that, in case he hadn't noticed, it was 3:00 in the morning, and I was in excruciating pain.

Apparently this was a stupid reason to him, because he simply retorted that, "Surgeons like to handle follow-up like this on their own."

I didn't really give two shits and had I had the ability to move, I might have poked him in the eye.

Then he told me to stop hyperventilating. What was my problem? Why was I breathing like that? There was no reason for it.

Now I really wanted to poke him in the eye. If I could stop, I probably would have because it's exceedingly uncomfortable. Just because he says he wants me to, is tantamount to saying, "Just tell the cancer to leave. Go on - do it!"


So, I stifled the urge to hit him, and he sent me along for some x-rays. When those were done, he apparently read them and then diagnosed me.

"You have gas," he said glibly.

Now, I am not a physician. I don't pretend to be. But I was specific in my description of the problem not feeling gastrointestinal, but rather intra-abdominal for a reason. It turns out I could feel my intestines, and the pain did not appear to be within them.

So, he sent me home after all but saying, "Don't be such a pussy, and stop wasting my time."

I told the RN after he left that if this was gas, I would eat my hat. She seemed sympathetic, but the great and powerful Oz had spoken, so she sent me on my way as he instructed. They gave me some pills to take home, and let me know to let my surgeon know that I had been here when I went to see her for my scheduled appointment to have my staples removed in a few hours.

I went home and tried (and failed) to sleep. I took their pills, and jacked up on pain meds, but they only masked the underlying problem.

When I got to see the Surgeon, I was still hyperventilating, pale, and having hot and cold flashes. She asked what was wrong, and I asked her if she had gotten my E.R. paperwork from the night before (she hadn't.) I explained what had happened, and she got pissed.

"This," she said, "Is NOT gas. Who told you that?"

I gave her the stellar physicians' name, and she forewent the staple removal to get me admitted immediately.

I ended up in a private room (no doubles were available) that was much nicer than the one I had had before. It was also much quieter, as the one I had had before was at the hub point of intersecting halls, whereas this one was at the end of a quiet one.

I was quarantined for MRSA (which is Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, I think) as I had been in the hospital in the past month. This meant that everyone who came to see me had to wear full hazmat gear, which seemed ridiculous to me.

I was immediately IV'd again, this time in my bicep area of my right arm. I spent the afternoon being run through a bunch of expensive looking (and sounding) machines, as well as giving blood like a vampiric sacrifice once more.

By evening, it turned out that what I had was a bile leak into my intra-abdominal cavity. This was due to a small hole in the closure from surgery. It had inflammed the living crap out of whatever it was leaking on, and this was what was causing me so much pain. The good news was, I didn't have to eat my hat.

So, I spent a night getting whacked up with antibiotics, painkillers, anti-inflammatories, and the like. My wife insisted on staying once more, but this time had a keen little couch/bed thing to sleep on. I felt better about this, as last time she had slept sitting up in the waiting room.

My Mom actually went home before it got dark, but was back early in the morning as Wanda left for work. I felt like a jerk because I had once more interrupted and inconvenienced so many lives that didn't need it.

By afternoon, I was feeling better. The inflammation was clearly gone (I could actually feel the difference) and I was ready to just get out of that place.

The Surgeon insisted that I eat first (my first hospital meal!), as I had been on the do not feed the bears list once more since the time of my arrival, and had eaten nor drunk nothing in some 40+ hours.

So, I ate my meal without much vigor. Partially because I was not even remotely hungry, but moreso because it was - well - hospital food.

It won't win any culinary awards, I can promise you that.

I got home, and just crashed hard once more. I couldn't believe the dumb luck, as I had expected to be back to work today, and instead I found myself being ordered to take another week off.

I just hope that this is the end of it.

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