Friday, May 31, 2013

A Pen Stuck Up My Nose? Never!

Every parent cringes with me at the mental image of a child with pencils stuck up his nose, pretending he is a walrus, or some other sort of animal, falls down.

The article goes on to share some other oddities of writing utensils being lodged in peoples’ bodies for years. My favorite was the 76 year old woman who had a felt tip pen removed from her stomach. It had apparently been there for at least 25 years.

When the doctors removed it, the pen still wrote. That the pen wrote is amazing. I can never seem to find a felt tip pen that works; they are always dried up and useless. I see now I have been looking in the wrong spots. I should be looking in the stomachs of grandmothers, rather than the pen cup on the desk.

As I read these stories, I sneered and tried to imagine how people could do such dumb things, I congratulated myself on never having a pen lodged in my nose for fifteen years.

Then I remembered a story from my youth. It was my birthday; I was turning 10. All of the neighborhood boys thought it was cool to pick long stems of grass and chew them.

I cannot imagine why we thought chewing grass was cool and eating vegetables was gross, but we did.

This glorious mid-August afternoon, I was riding my bicycle, chewing grass, and pretending I was a cowboy in the great wild west. As I rounded the corner, I fell off my bike.

I suffered a few scrapes, but nothing was broken.

As the day slipped into evening, I had this scratchy throat that I couldn’t shake. Nothing helped; drinking didn’t help, birthday cake didn’t help, ice-cream didn’t help.

After the last birthday guest had left, I told my mother that something was wrong. My throat felt scratchy, almost like there was a sliver in it.

She shook her head, “A sliver? How would you get a sliver in your throat?” She took a flash light and peered down my throat. She stepped back, eyes wide and called my father. “He has a sliver in his throat!”

Dad calmly said, “No, he can’t have a sliver in his throat.” But just to verify, he looked. He laughed, “He does have a sliver in his throat.”

I had to explain about chewing grass and riding my bike.

Mom and Dad shook their heads. Then it was off to the emergency room. There the nurses and doctors viewed my mothers diagnosis of a sliver in my throat with bemused looks that quickly turned to wide-eyed looks of surprise when they peered into my throat and saw that little sliver of grass lodged there.

After a parade of doctors and nurses stopped by to see the crazy boy with the sliver in his throat, a doctor reached in with a long pair of tweezers and removed it.

I no longer ride my bike and chew long pieces of grass at the same time, but I do like vegetables.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Talk Less; Listen More

This past week a horrible tornado struck the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore. My cellphone rattled with news alerts of the tragedy, and although I was at work, I was able to turn on the television to see some of the coverage from the devastated area. I watched dumbfounded and prayed for the people who had found themselves in the path of that horrible storm.

During the times when a tragedy has just occurred, as I watch news coverage, I am struck by an almost irresistible urge to scream, “Stop Talking!” to the little people who live inside the television.

People seem addicted to noise, especially the noise of themselves talking. I have seen this in one of my jobs where it seems that the best managers are the ones that talk the most. I refer to this management style as the “Harpy-Carpy Yippy-Yappy” style of management.

This over-talking lack of listening can have serious consequences, unless the person who is being talked at calmly and firmly restates a premise that the over-talker has missed.

Almost nine-teen years ago this coming July 1st, my Beloved and I were expecting. She woke up to find that her mucus plug had come out. Apparently the mucus plug is like a big booger that helps keep the baby healthy as it matures inside mother.

This was an exciting development, except that Beloved wasn’t due to deliver until August 4th.

Being a good husband and red-blooded American male, I immediately went into action and called the car dealership to make an appointment to get some recall work done on our car. It would not be acceptable to have an unsafe vehicle to bring home a new child from the hospital. Besides, the sound of impact air wrenches, the aroma of motor oil and exhaust, and the sound of engines starting have a calming effect.

After making that appointment, I called the doctor’s office. Being the Independence Day weekend, the office was closed. I quickly scribbled down the answering service phone number and gave them a call.

When they answered I explained the situation, “My wife is due August 4th, her mucus plug came out this morning, she is having minor contractions about 10 minutes apart.”

There was a slight pause, “This is your first, isn’t it?” the gentleman on the other end of the line must have pictured me running around like a complete imbecile, hitting every panic button in our house.

“Yes it is,” I replied.

He then proceeded to inform me that there was no cause for concern, and that I should call back when things were a little more imminent.

I took a deep breath and responded, “Let me repeat this. My wife is due August 4th...”

There was a long pause. The gentleman then spoke, his voice pitched a little higher, his cadence a little faster, the words coming out in quick staccato, “Oh, that is four weeks early! I will call the doctor on call immediately and inform her of the situation. If she doesn’t call you back in 20 minutes, call us back.”

Eldest was delivered, happy and healthy, the next day.

Sometimes it is important to talk less and listen more.

Friday, May 17, 2013

The First Festival of Summer and it is a Geekfest - Part 2

Rochester is known as the Festival Capital of the World by those of us who live here. Last week I wrote about Imagine RIT (Innovation and Creativity Festival) as the first festival of the season. I made this claim, even though Imagine RIT seems, in general, to be overlooked as a festival.

To me the basic ingredients of a festival are food, music, and people. There was definitely food. In addition to the ice-cream I mentioned last week, there was a group of students who were making smoothies in a blender. This blender was powered by a bicycle. I didn’t try the smoothies, since there was a very long line and I am not patient. I did have a bicycle once and would have loved a blender on the back to mix up an ice-cold smoothie on a hot summer’s bike ride.

Besides these frozen treats, there was a portion of the campus filled with tents where foods from different countries could be purchased. Eldest, Littlest, and I went to an indoor eatery, that was air-conditioned, and sampled some American cuisine. We each had burgers and split an order of curly fries.

Boring, I know, but we were being patriotic.

There was music. Lots of music. Although RIT is known internationally for being a strong engineering school, there was lots of excellent student music. Everything from acapella choirs, to a faculty and student jazz band. Everywhere I turned, it seemed there was music.

That leaves the last, and most important ingredient, of a festival--people. There were many people that attended the festival. I lost track after having to take off my shoes to count them.

A wonderful thing about large numbers of people together is that it becomes easier to bump into people you know. As we were leaving one set of exhibits, Eldest burst forth with, “Grace!” Eldest was delighted to see a young lady she coaches who is named, Grace. The two young ladies greeted each other with a warm hug, like long lost sisters.

Grace was there with her father and two older brothers, Sam and Joe. I like these two young men. However, Joe has a special spot in my heart for a few different reasons.

First, because he would not be out-done by his sister. When he saw his sister and my daughter hugging, he ran up to me exclaiming, “Mr. D!” as he gave me a firm manly bear hug.

From left to right: Littlest, Sam, Joe, Grace, Eldest. Another reason I like Joe, his amazing hair reminds me of my hair.

Joe also holds a special spot in my heart from his time in my young teen Sunday school class. He is the only student in the almost twenty-five years of teaching, that I have had to admonish to stop playing tug-of-war -- with a chair.

Joe was at Imagine RIT with his high school robotics team. They were showing off a robot they had built that had won some major competitions. The picture above is of the robot. I do not know what it is designed to do, I think it plays tug-of-war with chairs against other robots.

Friday, May 10, 2013

The First Festival of the Summer and it is a Geekfest

Rochester is proud of its festivals and this weekend starts with our wonderful Lilac Festival, but this is not the first festival of the season. Imagine RIT was last weekend and officially starts our festival season.

Last weekend Eldest, Littlest, and I went, Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), for the “Innovation and Creativity Festival”, otherwise known as Imagine RIT. I wrote about the same Festival last year, when Eldest and I visited.

One of the displays that caught my attention was an immense air cannon that RIT is working on as part of the “American Defense Against Uber Massive nerf Bombing”, or AmDUMB. This cannon launched nerf balls hundreds of feet into the air, hopefully shooting down any incoming nerf bombs.

One demonstration I wanted to see was the fencing demonstration. Having spent a great part of my youth in a rural agricultural community, I was keenly interested in the latest advances in putting up fences, which I remember as a painstaking, back-breaking process. Unfortunately, when I arrived, the demonstrators were playing a rousing game of Pirates instead of doing any fencing.

Eldest and Littlest went to see the science of making ice cream.  Scientists do it differently than normal people. They pour cream and flavorings into a bowl and add a solid form of carbon dioxide, or as Eldest says, “Dicarbon monolithic sulfate, but don’t quote me on that”. The result is a tasty frozen custard, scientifically speaking.  I tried some of Littlest’s treat and it was delicious.

One hidden display was this row of file folders with students name’s on them. This was how professors returned hard copies of assignments and such to the engineering students. I marveled out loud to my daughters that this was how things were done before the internet, email, and iThings. To which Eldest replied, “I know dad, I lived through part of the paper age.”

One last item of note, was some of the posters that were around the campus. Many of them pointed out some amazing exhibit that we should absolutely not miss. One poster, in particular, caught the eye of Eldest, who once posted on Facebook something along the lines of, “My boy friend told me he was going to break up with me because I live in a fantasy world. The jokes on him, he is a figment of my imagination.”

Friday, May 3, 2013

I Went to the Doctor and I didn't like it one bit.

I went to the doctor’s office this week. I don’t like seeing the doctor, nor do I enjoy seeing any of his nurse practitioners. Do not misunderstand; they are all lovely people. They are kind and caring and professional.

I do not like what happens to me when I go to see medical professionals. The first thing that happens is my bank account drops. I appreciate the fact that the doctor and nurses deserve to be paid for their excellent services, but I still hate to see my checking account balance drop.

Most every time I visit with my doctor, I feel healthy. I walk into the office with a smile on my face and a spring in my step. Then the doctor finishes his exam and begins to list the number of things wrong with me. A long, terrible, horrible list. He tries to soften the blow by saying, “But other than that, you are in perfect health.”

On a few occasions I have visited the doctor, only to be set upon by a gang of thugs all dressed in the same blue gang colors, with matching masks over their faces. In each instance I have found myself losing consciousness, and soon after waking, realized I have been knifed, and parts of my body have been removed.

Then this gang has the audacity to bill me for it. There goes my checkbook balance, again.

This most recent visit to my doctor’s office was to see a nurse practitioner. The idea of a nurse “practicing” on me is quite unsettling.

As we visited, she kept writing scripts, or prescriptions, for medicine for old people. This is infuriating, since I have maintained being 25 years old for quite some time. Yet she kept writing script after script for this and that.

She went over my blood work and noticed my vitamin D level was low. She wrote a script. I was hoping it was for a 4 week stay at a Carribean beachside resort, but no, it was for prescription strength vitamin D.

After 15 minutes of her scribbling out scripts for medications, she looked at me and said, “Are you dehydrated?”

I slumped in my chair, thinking to myself, “No beach vacation, and now she wants to know if I am dehydrated. I didn’t know water came in prescription strength.”