Monday, June 30, 2008


Most uncool. The light in the kitchen decided to come completely detached from the ceiling. Fortunately. it dropped off the anchors without slamming into one of the kids. Unfortunately the sudden descent broke the tubes. Aside from being dangerous, it was also rendered into a useless, dangling corpse. So I just snipped the only wires that kept it suspended from in mid-air and we threw the bones in the garage.

With my keen, CSI-like skills, I eventually determined that the former owners had not screwed the anchors into any studs. Instead, they attached it to the bare drywall.

And after a couple of years, it wiggled lose.

I'm surprised it lasted this long.

Just one more project added to my list.

Therapy After Prolotherapy.

Three weeks ago, I had prolotherapy. The shots continue to hold back any day-to-day pain. But Doctor Bensen needs me to do four weeks of physical therapy and see if I can make additional improvements. So, today, I had my initial appoint me, with Miss Gaye.

After the pancake of paperwork I had to complete, Miss Gaye spent almost an hour assessing my current condition. Of course assess means poking proding, bending, and smooshing me. Much like Doctor Bensen, she identified a problem with my left shoulder that I was not aware of, and she also found some "atrophy" in my right should and possibly in my biceps. And she thinks perhaps much of it descends from problems in my neck.

After the massage slash assessment, I spent about half an hour doing simple physical movements. Sometimes with weights. Sometimes without. And then I spent maybe fifteen minutes hooked up to a car battery and getting jolted while a recorded voice intoned me to relax. Actually, it was pretty damn peaceful and I wanted to get a prescription to take some of that juice home with me.

So three times a week for four weeks. I already feel a marked improvement and I'm looking forward to seeing how much progress I can make.

Interesting side note, as I was sitting at my desk, my arms and chest started itching. I looked, and I was spangled with what appeared to be hundreds of teeth marks, as if Miss Gaye had gotten freaky on me and bit me up like a madwoman. Quite kinky, but only in appearance. Snapped a photo of it for posterity. Might be last time anyone things I got my groove on.

Click the picture to enlarge and check the tooth marks.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

This Olde House - Secret Spackle Tips

I finished off my portion of the doors today. They are officially ready for Cindy to paint them. Hopefully she'll be on that sometime in the near future.Anyway, with another victory under my belt, I thought I share my secret method / tips on how to apply spackle in the holes on casings or trim or anything else that develops an unwelcome hole. I plan on passing this down to future generations of McDougals and may even patent it. It is just THAT dang good of a secret. So get it while it is free.

Muralo Spackle Tips For An Ultra Smooth Finish:

  1. This is important and I only stumbled upon it by accident: Sand the hole first! I usually go over every nail hole with a piece of sandpaper, making small circles, until I am certain the edges of the hole are gone and there is an ever-so-slight depression for the hole.

  2. I use a wide flat-head screwdriver or a razor blade to apply the spackle. Almost every time somebody has tried to show me how to spackle, they demonstrated with their finger. I've found that while the spackling process goes quicker, a finger tip actually presses into the hole, leaving a slight dimple on the top. Until I started using a flat metal item to put down the spackle, I kept finding holes that needed a second layer, because of the pitting.

  3. Finally, after the spackle dries, sand down the excess using small circular movements. As a side effect of using a flat-edge to apply the spackle, I usually don't have much excess to remove.

I've done the living room, dining room, hall, and now the doors using the sand - spackle - sand method, and the holes are nearly invisible, even before getting painted. Once a layer or two of white has been applied, even an up-close-and-personal inspection will have trouble finding flaws in the work.I'll admit, it takes MUCH longer doing it this way. But I think the results are notably better than doing it the easy way. And that's my secret.

EDIT: Check the comments, but a James Norton (possibly President of Muralo) wrote to tell me:

Spackle is a registered Trademark of the Muralo Company 148 East fifth Street Bayonne, NJ 07002. Please respect our trademark and include our company name when using Spackle.

Seeing as I really enjoy the company's product, I'm happy to respect the trademark and include the company name. I even threw in a link directly to the site!

This Olde House - New Interior Doors

This is a post long in the coming. I worked on this project on May 31st. Actually, I ordered the doors in March. They arrived in April. And after several more weeks, I finally synced up with my father-in-law to get them installed. Not sure why it took me a month to post, but better late than never.

The first picture shows one of the original doors. In this case, From inside Liam's room. Notice the super-high-gloss black paint on the casing. As well as the equally shiny coat on the chair rails! (Seriously, what kid's room has chair rails? Let alone black ones?) Though it can't be seen, trust me when I say the door is extremely cheap and flimsy (ie: hollow.) It offers absolutely no acoustic benefits. The catch on the doorknob barely catches. And there is almost a two inch gap at the bottom.

The second photo was taken after I had removed the door and the casing. The unpainted hall is visible in the background. As well as the stick on floor tiles which will eventually be removed to reveal the hardwoods underneath. Anyway, I made short work of the old doors: Popped the pins. Took the door outside. Pried off the old casings with my FatMax Fubar. Cut the frame with my reciprocating saw. And took out all the scraps

At last, a picture of the new door in place. My father-in-law and I put it in place, leveled it out, snapped the casings in place, and I tapped in a bunch of 2" finishing nails with my cordless Dewalt nailgun. Believe it or not, but we didn't have any problems. Even taking a lot of time and checking the level dozens of times, it only took about an hour per door.

Oh! I bought them all from Lowe's. They are officially called Palazzo Bellagio Smooth 2 Panel Doors. They came pre-hung, pre-primed, pre-holed, and included the oil-rubbed bronze hinges.

The new doors are "foam core' but they feel like solid wood, weigh ninety pounds each, and have a very noticeable impact on sound. In the end, Cindy and I are MUCH happier. It is a huge improvement, even though they are not spackled or painted. That comes next.

Friday, June 27, 2008

This Olde House - Bathroom Wiring

After my first experience "firring" the bathroom wall, my father came over and goofed with the wiring. The goal was to install a new fan (one that is the opposite of the old one - something with a light, that is quiet, and modern,)wire up a new outlet (to the right of the sink,) and change the old fading switches to new white ones. Unfortunately, the ancient wiring stumped Dad. And it didn't help that I had bought the wrong kind of switch for the fan.But tonight, after work, I ran some additional wires. First, I realized that the OLD vent only had a fan, no light. And it only had a single line going to tit. The NEW vent has a fan and a light, and it required an additional. Which meant not only a hole through the ceiling joists, but a fun-filled trip into the attic and a sweaty fishing adventure through aging insulation. But somebody has to do it, and it might as well be me. After a lot of sweating and much cursing, the deed was done. And the first picture shows the new yellow line dipping into the blue box.
After I ran that line, I drilled through the studs and ran an additional line for the additional power outlet. The trick on this one was that I had to go through the two studs in the corner. Part luck, part grim determination, I lined up the holes, curved the line like a fishhook, and slowly threaded it 45 degrees through the holes.The second picture shows the line terminating in a new metal workbox. That's my father's call. He said to do it because the old wiring doesn't have GFC, it needs a metal box. And trailing below it is an additional connection, but only the copper is connected, and it connects to one of the new copper pipes.Also, looming in the top of the second picture is a new blue box, for the lamps above the medicine cabinet. Really hope I measured that one right!Ultimately, the walls go up tomorrow. If this doesn't work, it won't be pretty. But I tried. That's all I can do.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Hey, Kool-Aid!

On a hot June morning, Meg & Liam decided to become entrepreneurs. They wrote their own signs, made their own product, and setup a "Kool-aid" stand in the front yard.

They ended up drinking much of their profits, but they did have a couple of sales.

Their first business endeavor.

And they did it together.

I'm proud of them both.

Monday, June 23, 2008

This Olde House - Bathroom Studs

Many moons ago, I took the bathroom down to the studs. Last weekend (I have to have pictures around here somewhere!) my cousin Bobby Daniels helped get the old pipes and drains replaced. He also helped put in the new tub.

Unfortunately, there was a 1.5 gap between the back of the tub and the existing studs. Bobby suggested that I should "fir" the whole wall, to get it even. I called my father-in-law, Robert, and he said I could just fir the wall behind the tub. It would create a small, one inch, difference between the new wall and the original wall. I liked that idea better than fir'ing the entire wall. And (thankfully) Cindy agreed.

So, yesterday, I measured everything three times. The additions to the studs would require two 1.5" boards and two 1.25" boards. I don't have a table saw (yet) so I thought Lowe's would be able to rip the boards for me. Of course, I thought wrong. They wouldn't do it. I ended up buying some 2 x 3s and taking them to my Grandfather's old tablesaw. Either the blade was too thick, or it was too dull, or both. But it took an hour to rip four boards. And the smoke the hot blade produced as it cut the wood was horrible. It choked me and burned my eyes for hours.

Today, after I got home, I grabbed a collage of tools and went to work getting the new pieces in place.

First, I checked my cuts and pushed the boards into place. The fit was tight and (much to my amazement) I wouldn't need to make any modifications. It all fit the first time. From the top photo, I used a level to make sure everything was straight. Tested the top, the middle, and the bottom of each board.

Next, I pulled the new fir back gently and ran a bead of Liquid Nails between the two boards. I don't know if I absolutely needed to do that, but I figured it wouldn't hurt. With the glue keeping everything in place, I grabbed the cordless nailer, and went to town. From the second picture, I started up top and traveled down. Tap tap tap. The fir went in smooth like butter.

Finally, from the third picture, I grabbed the cordless drill and carefully drilled the lip of the tub to the studs. A couple of places had fractional gaps (the tub is more square than the room is!) so I used some pre-fab shims from Lowes to close the gap, and just screwed right through them. That way, if somebody pushes on the sides of the tub, there will not be much give or flexibility.

Considering it was my first attempt at any such thing, I was surprised how well it went and how close the fit was. Next, I'll drop some pink insulation between the studs (mainly for acoustic improvements) and finalize the wiring with my father. Then I'm going to bite the bullet and pay somebody to hang, tape, and float the walls. I could do most of that myself, but I've got a lead on a guy who can do it MUUUUCH faster and at a reasonable price.

One way, or another, I still have to swap out the door to the bathroom and get ready for the tiling, too. I'm hoping to have the whole bathroom project completed by the end of July. I'm ready to move on to something else.


I've been using Twitter, lately.

Click here to peek behind my eyes.

Very therapeutic to instantly get stray thoughts and/or wild ideas out of my head. Makes room for the IMPORTANT stuff. Like, um..... ...ah.

McCain's Mighty Expensive Battery

Finally an idea from The Right that I could support: McCain says he would offer a $300M bounty for anyone who could create more efficient car batteries as well as offer a $5000 tax credit toward buyers of electric vehicles.

$300M represents $1 from every man, woman, and child in the US. I'd sign up for that. Hell, I'd pay out of my own pocket for all the members of my extended family in MS.

I think the arguments against it will include: a) The market is already innovating at record levels, b) Anyone who COULD build such a battery is already working on it because they know the market for such a beast would reach BILLIONS in returns, and c) It should not come at the tax payer's expense.

I suppose I could agree with some of those. But I reiterate that $1 / family member is a fair price in my opinion. And regardless of who is trying to build such a beast already, receiving $300M for being the first to do it is a mighty powerful incentive.

Now if McCain would only shutup about a gasoline tax break (at the expense of the all-ready-tax-strapped local governments) and he stopped suggesting that tapping ANWR would be good for anything other than a six-month-fix for America's gas addiction, I might be more inclined to vote for him.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

MOVIE: Little Miss Sunshine

Little Miss Sunshine is a comedic tale of the typical "disfunctional American family" told in an atypical manner. It is low on budget, but high on honesty.

The spirited cast of characters include:
  • an over-abused introverted mother trying to keep everyone happy at her own expense
  • an angry doped-up grandfather trying to burn out rather than fade away
  • a disillusioned, Nietzsche-reading teenaged son mad at everyone for all the wrong reasons
  • the most amazingly innocent daughter who fills the room with her smile
  • and a delusional father who has drank so much of the wrong Kool Aid that he's vomiting up his own brand and trying unsuccessfully to get everyone in the family to drink it
World-class acting. Great direction. Many interesting little surprises. And dialog that I'll be quoting for a decade. (Especially the Grandfather's advice to his Grandson!)

Gotta confess, without any spoilers, that I didn't dig the ending. Not what I was expecting, however I was expecting something along a completely different tanget. Good movie, but anti-climatic.

Good date flick. Bad kid flick. Worth the price of admission.

Young implosion

Though I'm probably too old and far too uncool, I'll confess to being an Amy Winehouse fan. I find her music to be refreshingly retro, consistently mellow, and I'm extremely fond of hearing sultry women confessing their undying affections for their man.

That being said, I'm saddened to hear that:
  • She's only 24 and already bee-hive deep in more drama than a shelf of Shakespeare scripts.
  • She must have taken up cigarettes and crack at the age of 2 because she already has Emphysema
  • And her own father reported: she was up 48 straight hours and then collapsed into a ball on her bed, sleeping for 3 days.
How any parent can sit by and idly watch their child destroy themselves is beyond me. I'm keen to see a episode of A&E's Intervention featuring Any Winehouse. They need to travel across the Big Pond, catch her while she's still weak, and do a special show about her. Maybe a two hour tear-jerker. I'd love to hear what causes such a young implosion of such a raw, talented girl.

Obama. A Loophole. A shield.

Obviously Barack stopped by here recently and picked up a few good ideas. Today the interwebs are alive with talk of him ending the "Enron Loophole," in an effort the thwart the energy speculators run on the oil market.

A couple of noteworthy details I didn't see mentioned very often:
  • The Enron Loophole (click here!) was created by Enron Lobbyists with the help of Wendy Lee Graham and her husband Phil Graham.
  • Wendy Lee Graham, Clean Air's "Villain of the Month," back in 2002, was on Enron's board of directors while it stole about $40B from consumers.
  • Phil Graham is John McCain's "economic brain," since McCain is a self-confessed economic dunce.
  • Currently, McCain is defending the Enron Loophole, created by his advisor's wife.
  • Aside from allowing speculators to continue to rape and pillage through manipulation of "market uncertainties, McCain's other clever answers to combating rising energy prices are: eliminating subsidies for oil companies (which will force the oil companies to pass additional costs on to the consumers) and a Clinton-esque summer hiatus on gas taxes (which will rob much-needed funding from the various highway commissions and departments which depend upon the tax money throughout the year.)
So points go to Obama for the only candidate currently planning to do something that will actually affect the prices at the pump.

However, I have to ding him for his choice on his new "campaign seal." The Weekly Standard suggests it is illegal. I suggest it is an unnecessary act of hubris. You can pick up a body suit and a surf board, but that doesn't make you a surfer. I certainly get the hint, Obama's keen to stand behind the REAL seal, so he's practicing or giving us a taste of what's to come. But it's over the top and smacks of arrogance. For that, I say: Bad form, sir. Bad form.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

MOVIE: There Will Be Blood

Daniel Day-Lewis is a devilish, explosion of an actor that I can not stop staring at. Intense. Enthralling. Unpredictable. Genuine. Touching. Enraging. And loathsome. I barely blinked for two and a half hours.

Otherwise, There Will Be Blood is writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson's adaptation of Upton Sinclair's novel Oil. The directing was award-winning. The pacing was slow, but not ponderous. The writing was better than most. And the dialog was gritty and staccatic, just like I like it. While I was almost giddy with enjoyment of this movie, I have to point out that it rapidly dragged any time Daniel Day-Lewis was not the focus of attention. He was the lynch pin of the creation. Without him, It would have crumbled under its own dark weight.

Much like No Country For Old Men (I gotta write a review!) there is a strong chance that few women will enjoy this movie, rendering it useless as a date flick. And anyone bringing children to such a film should be reported to the Department of Child Services. Men, however, will completely dig it and find themselves itching to travel West after purchasing a pick ax and some suspenders. Well worth a rental, but mark off a large chunk of time to view it in one sitting.

MOVIE: Half Light

I think Half Light's marketing people were counting on two target audiences to help recoup the cost of Demi Moore's payday:
1) People who thought this was the sequel to 1990's Ghost, but without Patrick "Nobody puts Baby in a corner!" Swayze.

2) People like me who mis-read the title and thought they were renting a movie-adaptation of Half-Life.

As far as plot: Demi's character, a writer, loses a child, moves to Scotland, and proceeds to do the no pants dance with a swarthy local on an deserted light-house-bearing island. Unlike the sci-fi game-based movie I thought I was renting, Half Light is supposed to be a supernatural thriller romance. In actuality it isn't super, it isn't really thrilling, and the romance is more shallow than Hilary Clinton's concession speech.

The acting was marginal, at best. The pacing was glacial. The dialog was forced and unnatural.
The plot, while almost interesting in parts, wasn't even remotely believable once all the pieces were assembled. Whomever wrote this needs to see if their former job at the Oxygen Network is still available.

Perhaps it is a tolerable Chick Flick and could do well on Lifetime Television. But it isn't anything men or children will want to see. And it fell way short of the game I thought I was renting. Instead of a protagonist that bears an uncanny resemblance to me, I get a flimsy snoozefest that resembles a failed attempt at a Hitchcockian Scottish snog film. I'll take that bespectacled hero Gordan and his crowbar ANY DAY!

MOVIE: Gone Baby Gone

If I were forced to describe Gone Baby Gone in one word, my word would be: SHAZAAAAAM!

If I were forced to describe Gone Baby Gone in 18 words, they would be: Incredibly powerful morality flick that kept surprising me while giving me a new found respect for the F Bomb.

What I liked: Award-winning acting. (So good in fact that Casey Affleck returns honor to his family name, after brother Ben's all-too-public carnal run-ins with Jenny From The Block!) Grrrrreat pacing, very timely and engaging. Superb directing. Stellar dialog. And a plot that pulled a rare feat by surprising numerous times. Not since The Usual Suspects have I been so unexpectedly caught off guard.

What I didn't like: Without offering any spoilers this is a morality story culminating in a decision the protagonist has to make. While in some Draconian sense I do agree with the reasoning behind the decision, I kept returning to the fact that it is a morality tale, and each of us possesses unique and amorphous morals. Which usually means we are constantly balancing between what we "should do," and what we "want to do." Gone Baby Gone pivots on such a decision and the outcome is quite a noodle scratcher.

Would make a great date flick, if the couple can tolerate the deluge of profanity (which is heard so often that it almost becomes background noise.) Not something any children should be seeing. Definitely worth the price of a rental. Great great great flick. Wish I had caught Gone Baby Gone sooner!

Milestone: 400 Posts

Approaching three years since I first started recording my thoughts and adventures for posterity. Earlier this week, I quietly reached my 400th post. Not that I'm caught up. Not by any stretch of my feeble imagination. I still have maybe a hundred scraps of paper with my thoughts on them. One day I'll transfer them to this mad digital medium. For now, I'm happy with 400. That's a respectable number in my book.

Friday, June 20, 2008

MOVIE: I Am Legend

I honestly think some movies are best viewed on "The Big Screen." The sound effects sound better. The visual effects look better. I Am Legend is one of those movies.

The movie was drowning in Computer Generated Images (CGI.) The opening scene didn't work well for me at all. The car barreling down the over-grown corpse of New York was obviously fake and over-done. It was hyper-realistic. Too many things that were too perfect. Good intentions, certain, but bad execution. Then there were the zombies. Waaaaaaaay too comic-bookish. They didn't move with anything approaching realism. They weren't the least bit believable. I like to think the movie would have worked better in a theatre. But on my screen, it fell surprisingly short of my expectations.

Aside from the CGI, I thought the plot was extremely shallow. The flashbacks added depth, but they were not enough to carry the whole movie. There wasn't enough dialog to really to form an opinion. And the plot was more predictable than it was interesting and I think it missed an opportunity to shine by not aggressively pitting the hero against a more interactive and challenging villain.

On a positive note, I did enjoy the slight twist at the ending, involving an oft repeated admonition from a young boy. That surprised me, only briefly, but didn't do anything to lesson my dislike of the ending.

Perhaps a lightly-entertaining date flick. Not something I'd recommend for the younger kids, but perhaps teens would dig it. If there's $2 in change in the sofa, it might be worth renting.

I only hope there's no sequel .

Campaign Of Lies

Aside from commercials, one of the main things I avoid on television is politics. Don't get me wrong, I like the science of governing people. And I'm fascinated by the evolution of that process. But I'm sickened by the tendency of modern politicians to prey on the stupidity of the masses and the media's proliferation of lies and deception. Today's campaigns based lack honesty or integrity. The whole science has gradually transformed from what was once politics to what is today's modern scamitics.

Today's example of the lies and deceptions of scamitics involves Barack Obama's "broken promise" on "public finance." Both sides have their version of the situation. Somewhere between the statements lies the truth, but getting to it is extremely difficult and nearly impossible if one depends solely on the information provided by the media outlets.

Obama announced that he will not accept $84M of taxpayer money and will not stick within that budget as he campaigns for POTUS. Instead he will only accept private donations and will not constrain himself to a limited budget. Obama says he is doing this because a) The current system is broken, b) The Republicans will unleash their "527 Groups" who have no budget caps, and they will mercilessly attack him. So if the GOP is not going to campaign within the bounds of the $84M cap, he is not going to hobble himself by staying within such a limited budget.

John McCain immediately announced that a) He is going to accept $84M of taxpayer money and will stick within that budget as he campaigns for POTUS, b) He is disappointed that "Obama lied," and "Obama broke a promise," and "Obama flip flopped."

Both announcements are full of holes and distractions. Neither parties are being honest with the American public. And the media outlets are not doing anything to shed light on these shady characters.

First, Obama says "527 Groups" are a major part of his reasoning. He paints himself as their victim and says he is going to bring a knife to a gunfight. But he does not mention that there are currently no major anti-Obama 527 groups. He does not mention that the largest, most active 527 is are Democrats, and they are on his side. So, while I agree with his decision and I have little doubt that radical Republican 527 Groups will spring up and attack him, I don't agree with his omission of the reality of the situation.

Second, what Obama did, was complete a questionnaire last year and answered YES to the question: "If you are nominated for president in 2008 and your major opponents agree to forgo private funding in the general election campaign, will you participate in the presidential public financing system?" It is a classic IF... THEN... statement. IF (something X happens) THEN (something Y will results.) The IF in this case is "your major opponents agree to forgo private funding." This IF THEN condition has rarely been mentioned. The media only reports that Obama is not forgoing private funding.

Third, while spewing his condemnation of Obama's "lies," broken promises," and "flip flops," McCain does not mention (nor does the media enlighten anyone to) that from March 4th (after he became the presumptive GOP candidate) until June 19th, McCain was campaigning on private funding by accepting private funding.

Fourth, it was only after Obama said he was NOT going to accept public funding (he would be accepting private funding instead) did McCain say he WAS going to accept public funding (after he has been accepting private funding for four months.)

Fifth, McCain does not mention (nor is it widely reported) that he completed the same questionnaire in 2007 and on the question about public funding, McCain did not answer.

So McCain didn't agree to the terms of the "IF... THEN..." statement in the questionnaire.
And McCain has been accepting private funding since March 4th, in clear violation of the "IF... THEN..." statement. Then Obama absolutely should not be held responsible for fulfilling his end of the agreement.

Perhaps I'm nitpicking. Maybe I'm obsessing over the details. But if I can't trust the media on issues like this, how can I trust them on important issues. If they fail to give me a complete picture of this situation, how can I be sure they will give me any useful details on future issues?


Frustrating stuff. Scamitics, I calls it. Scamitics, I says.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Prolo plus one week

The injections are a week old.

No return of the soreness in my right shoulder.

No phantom pains in my right hand.

No lose of flexibility.

My physical therapy was pushed back a week. But after those four weeks, I think it will be declared a profound success.

If I didn't know otherwise, I would not think I had ever been injured.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Top of the world, ma!

Noticed something unusual today. On June 6th, my traffic went up about 600%. But only for one entry: this one.

What in the sweet name of Jeebus caused THAT? I don't advertise my page. I don't even tell anyone but my close friends about it. Where did the glut of visitors come from? So I dig through my logs. Finally, I see it. Everything came from Google. In fact, across the course of three days, Google sent me almost 250 new visitors. And just for one search term: unbreakable movie. It is my review of Unbreakable, the Bruce Willis movie from 2000

So, I google the terms, and... oh... my.... god! I'm at the TOP of the list. I even beat out IMDB? Not just on the first page. Not just in the top ten. But the very top. I'm #1!

Even though I can now die a happy man (having scratched "#1 search term for SOMETHING on Google" off my Bucket List,) I figure the victory will be short lived. My own fifteen microseconds of fame. So I grabbed a screenshot. (click the picture to enlarge.)

And I'm never going to wash my screen again!

Monday, June 16, 2008

My New Job...

....defending that groundhog sniffing, barnacle scrubber, Bill Murray. He's paying with Caddyshack memorabilia. I just wish these newshounds would spell my name correctly:

Bill Murray's attorney, John McDougall, wouldn't comment on the allegations, but said the entertainer "is deeply saddened by the breakup of his marriage."

"He and his wife made loving parents and they are committed to the best interests of their children," McDougall said.


And, of course, no mention of my client would be complete without obligatory of the great Golf Course Philosopher, Carl Spackler:

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Googly Love

Hey, Google, I appreciate the love and respect for Pappy's, like me, but... um... where's Veteran's Day?

Shalom Chaverim

All this week, Liam's been going to Vacation Bible School and United Methodist. He's been learning about the life and times of Jesus. And believe it or not, he's been learning a lot of Jewish traditions and practices. He was in the Judah tribe, and learned to write in Hebrew. I was actually impressed with some of the things they were teaching him. I wish it had gone on another week!

They concluded with a special service today. So I went with everyone and watched. They same some cool songs and all kinds of dance steps to remember. But the last song was my favorite: Shalom Chaverim ("Peace friends, until we meet again.") He was next to his buddy, Hannah, and kicking all over the place, while singing, "Sha-lom Ha-ver-im, Sha-lom Ha-ver-im." He threw more kicks than a Bruce Lee flick.

Great way to start the day.

Father's Day 2008

Cindy bought me a new book: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz. Meg picked out a new, light green, Life Is Good Shirt. And Liam hand made a clay bowl, with a D for Dad, in the bottom of it, for me.

Swung by my parent's house and dropped off a present for my Dad. A nice golf shirt for his future adventures on the greens.

Stopped by my Grandmother's to visit her. Also saw my Uncle Earl and his daughter, Michella, there.

Ended up at my Father-In-Law's house. A golf shirt for him. Burgers for us. Cindy's brother and his clan joined us.

Swapped text messages with my brother. Emails with Sabrina and Keith. And text messages with Kevin V, in Las Vegas.

Nothing unusual, just a peaceful and unproductive day with the family and a bunch of other fathers.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

MOVIE: The Happening

I have readily confessed to being an M. Night Shyamalan fan. a) He made Unbreakable (a movie about comics before comics were cool,) b) He actually surprised me in The Sixth Sense, and c) his name sounds really cool if you say it quickly,

So it was with high expectations that I revisited Mr. Shyamalan's work and put down $5 of my hard earned loot to see his latest project: M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening.

Here's the short review: It should have been named: M. Night Shyamalan’s The CRAPppening. Would-be viewers should save their $5, money better spent on a Taco Bell cheesy double beef burrito. Not a good date flick. Not something anyone should expose their children to. Possibly the last nail in a once-entertain and brilliant man's coffin.

Following a rant, is my long review.

First, the rant. Nothing makes my stomach churn like the smell of an overflowing Port-O-Let in the middle of a Mississippi summer, EXCEPT the assertions of "Intelligent Design." The teleological argument is that organic life as we know it is so complex and exact in purpose that it (ie: "life") could not come about randomly, through some chaotic "theory of evolution." Nay, brother. Nay, I say. It had to be created by an "Intelligent Designer," with a purpose in mind. Right? Fundamentally, Intelligent Design replaces Nature (capital "N") with God (capital "G.")

Now, the review. M. Night Shyamalan’s The CRAPppening is a poorly disguised Trojan Horse filled with Intelligent Design invaders. Marky Mark isn't on the screen for two minutes before his character (Elliot Moore) proclaims to his young students that evolution "is just a theory." And, of course, he drags out the already-cliche-argument "acts of nature can never be fully explained." And the movie does not get any better from there.

I'll concede that there are some clever scenes of dead people. And scenes of living people becoming dead people.

There is an interesting idea lingering through out the film about Nature's ability to defend itself. Until I realize the allegory is that offending Nature is actually offending God, and Nature's wrath (in the form of a mighty, unstoppable, and inescapable wind) is actually God's wrath.

And there are a couple of humorous moments, mainly centered around a potentially crazy botanist and his wieners.

But the movie does even remotely approach its true potential. It doesn't show the collapse of society in any grand scope. It doesn't reveal any ghastly details of the supposed damage being done to Nature. It doesn't suggest any unusual or insightful cures to the repair the harm we've inflicted.

After the first scene of the Jews fleeing Egypt, I mean the characters escaping New York, the writing is predicable and boring. The dialog is useless and unsurprising. The limited special effects aren't able to support the rest of the movie's shortcomings. And the amazingly diverse collective of rapidly dwindling protagonists neither says nor does anything to make their soon-to-be-snuffed lives memorable. Nothing the characters say or do matters between the beginning and the end of the movie. They may as well just stood in place, saying nothing for an hour and some change. I would have been equally bored.

And, M. Night Shyamalan doesn't even give me the courtesy of a reacharound by providing some kind of mind-altering twist at the end. No, he doesn't. "Events like this, just... end... suddenly," he tells me. And the event ends.

But M. Night Shyamalan’s The CRAPppening doesn't end soon enough.

Prolo plus three

It took me all morning to realize I was feeling normal again.

Eating lunch on the sofa and I suddenly realize: My shoulder doesn't hurt. No pain. None. Anywhere.

For the first time in the three months, I don't hurt. Even when I stretch, I don't feel anything adverse.

Only three days later.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Prolo plus two

A vast improvement in my shoulder, today. There is still a good bit of tightness and swelling. But the majority of the soreness is gone. My range of motion is fantastic. And I've been stretching all day. Still no popping, which is great. Did notice an odd side effect. I'm getting odd bursts of pain in my right hand, mainly in the joints of my fingers. It doesn't last long. But I don't think I've had such experiences in the past.

I'm supposed to get four weeks of physical therapy, but they can not get me on the schedule for two weeks. In the meanwhile, I may try to get back into the gym with some light workouts and a bunch of cardio. Doctor Bensen said I could get work out again, starting tomorrow. But I'm going to wait and see how I feel next week.

Plenty of progress. I'm very happy thus far.

Prolo plus one

Woke up with a sudden realization that my shoulder felt like somebody had taken a meat tenderizer to it. Except instead of a nice, smooth consistency, my shoulder was encased in burning steel cables.

A good bit of soreness. But nothing worse than I'd been experiencing. Everything was very tight. Cindy said there is a good bit of swelling.

One good thing, I noticed that there's no "popping" involved in anything I do today. Recently, I'd feel something pop if I lifted anything up or pushed straight down. Today, no problems.

Hopefully, that is a good sign.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

My First Prolotherapy

Cindy and I dropped the kids off at my Mother's house, then left for my prolotherapy. I can't speak for Cindy's state of mind, but I was nervous. Here I am, hurting for some three months, not one hundred percent sure what is wrong, not one hundred percent sure if this treatment will cure me, not sure what to do, not sure how it will go. It's hard putting your health and your faith in the unknown. If Cindy had not been working with Doctor Bensen for so long and seen such good results, I never would have done it. But I trust her. And I want to feel better.

It started off with a twist. Cindy, my wife of thirteen years, finally fulfilled one of her dreams, and gave me an IV. She has talked about my "good veins" since the night we met. And this was her first (literal) stab at me. She did a great job. I didn't feel a thing.

Next, they rolled me into the operating room. The nurse, Cathy, started me on some very nice medications which "sedated" me. I was conscious, but felt very distant, and heavy. Like the flimsy seconds between trying to fall asleep and drifting off to slumber.
Doctor Bensen rolled in and said he was going to "contract my muscles" and I needed to tell him when he hit the right one. I thought he was using an electric current to contract things in my shoulders. It felt electric. Like a shock that seizes you up. Softly, Cindy tells me he isn't using electricity. He is using acupuncture. Just a needle. And homing in on the damaged areas.

Once he isolated the target zones, he "peppered me" with injections. They hurt. But I was fifty feet below my body, and didn't mind too much. I just floated and kept breathing. He hit me with twelve shots. Testosterone, B-12, and sucrose. Mostly in the front of my shoulder. A couple in my upper bicep. From my pleasant haze, I think I smiled and thanked him a couple of times.

Back in the recovery room, Cindy kept asking if I was okay. I didn't really care to open my eyes. I was enjoying the tasty buzz. Very mellow and relaxing. I was happy to just lounge around and enjoy the downtime. Cindy snapped some shots with her cell phone, for posterity.

Once the meds wore off, we grabbed a sammich from Subway (I hadn't eaten since noon,) picked up the kids, and called it a night. Not bad for outpatient surgery. If it fixed my right shoulder, we'll move on to the left. And then on to my hips/lower back. If it delivers on its promises, I won't hesitate to recommend it to friends and family.

All set?

Kimmer (via text message:) "a cold cup of coffee and a half a hard on and you are all set!"

Do I really want to decipher that one?

Saturday, June 07, 2008

MOVIE: Kung Fu Panda

Caught this one with the kids while Cindy was shopping.

The kids enjoyed really enjoyed it, even Meg.

I really enjoyed it. It wasn't too campy. It wasn't too childish. Jack Black did a great job with his character. The dialog was better than most cartoons and rarely trite. The pacing was pretty good. The plot wasn't very predictable and managed to keep all of us interested throughout. I really liked the villain. I really liked that he actually had his own plight. And I enjoyed the story arc between Panda and his father.

My only complaint is that the secondary characters were initially hyped up, but were eventually fairly shallow. Of course there is only so much a story can do in a limited time frame. But I felt a little disappointed that we didn't get to know more about the other heroes in the cartoon.

Otherwise, Kung Fu Panda was a great movie. Certainly a fantastic selection for the kids. And I think it would be a good light-hearted date movie for a happy, easy going couple in need of a break from anything serious.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

My Three Wounds

Some time ago, I got a little carried away at the gym. I pushed too hard, too quickly. Twisting dumb bell presses. Sixty five pounds in each hand. A new personal record. And a brand new injury. My right shoulder has never been the same.

It kept getting worse. It wasn't enormously painful. But it was fairly constant. I took four weeks off from the gym. It improved marginally. But the ache returned after my first day back. With no end in sight.

I had to do something. But there was one thing I didn't want: orthopedic surgery. Greg, at work, had shoulder surgery, and it adversely affected him for months. He couldn't lift his arm above his chest for weeks. And I didn't want to follow his lead. So after talking to Cindy about it, I went to see her boss, Doctor Bensen. She's always told me about the wonderful results she sees in his patients. So I said I'd give it a try.

Here are the finer points:
  • I ended up waiting four hours to be seen. Thank god I brought a book. Unfortunately it was a bad book.
  • My RIGHT shoulder is messed up. Doctor Bensen went to test my "good shoulder," the left one, to measure my strength and range of motion. But while pushing my down my left (remember: good!) arm, my left shoulder abruptly popped out of socket, causing my arm to swing down like a rag doll, and it popped back into the socket at the bottom of the arc. So not only did he diagnose a sprain in my right shoulder, but he suggested that (even though I felt no pain) my left shoulder had a tear.
  • He thought it was odd that I'd have such trauma in my upper torso, and nothing in my lower torso. At which point I mentioned my extremely gnarly lower back. He examined my lumbar region and pronounced that it everything was extremely tense. Abnormally so. And then he discovered the problem. He called it my "hip." I called it, "my ass." In my upper glute, he found another damaged area. At least sprained. At worse, torn. And to compensate, the ache radiates up to my lower back.
So I go in with on complaint, and come out with three wounds.

The current plan is to tackle my right shoulder. And once we see how it responds to prolotherapy (click here for a long discussion on it) then we'll either work on the left shoulder, or my back.

For now, we're off to the beach. And next week, my first round of treatment. If Doctor Bensen can fix all my ailments without surgery, I'll start a religion around him!