Friday, February 06, 2009

PRK vs. Lasik (Follow-up)

Well, I am way overdue for an update to my blog, as well as a follow-up to my earlier PRK vs. Lasik post. I have received several requests for an update, so . . . here it goes:

It has been over eight months since my surgery, and I am happy to report, that my eyeball-modification experience has resulted in two healthy eyeballs. At this point (and I am alternating eyes right now to be sure) I cannot tell any difference between to the two surgeries. Right now my vision is at least 20/20 in each eye. (They have both tested better than that on occasion. I don’t know if my vision is quite as good as it was with glasses before, but it is very close.)

PRK Recovery
Certainly the PRK eye took longer to recover. My theory is I would grow a new layer of cells over my eye at a rate of .333 eyeballs per day. In other words, I would have funky, fuzzy vision for a couple days while a layer of cells was partially covering my eye, distorting everything. Then on the third day angels would trumpet, stars would align (literally), and I would have perfect vision out of that eye. Then the process would start all over the next day.
It seems like after 4 or 5 months I stopped noticing. From that point (and for the remainder of this blog,) my eye experiences were identical.

Typical Complaints
As far as the well-known, long-term complications go:

Eye drops: At this point the doctor has instructed me to use eyedrops when my eyes feel like they need it. Right now I have a whole box of eyedrops in my medicine cabinet. Once a week or so (usually right when I wake up), my eyes feel dry. One drop is all it takes and my eyes feel instantly better. Not too bad. You get used applying them, but I am still not to the point where I can flip a drop up and catch it in my eye. Maybe someday. However, that will probably be more worthy of YouTube than Blogger.

Halos at night: Certainly, street lights at night do have a bit of a halo around them. I have to be looking for them to notice. It’s usually not too bad, and tends to go away when I wash the car’s windshield. (Maybe I should wash the car more often ;^)

Tired eyes: I will periodically get together with the guys and we will play games until sunrise or wifetext, whichever happens first. The next day my eyes will be sore. Once I even had some funky throbbing migraine-like sensation that had me a bit freaked out. (Headaches of any sort, especially migraines are pretty foreign to me.) Usually an eyedrop and a nap is all I need.

My personal reservations
Of course, beyond the well know complications, I had my own set of neurotic phobias:

Not being able to cry: Believe it or not, I was really nervous that my ability to cry would be damaged. I had heard horror stories of extreme dry eyes. Fortunately, that is not me. It was at my daughter’s baptism that I realized my eyes could still produce moisture at appropriate moments. Of course, that realization made me cry. Oh, and the baptism was nice too ;^)

Accidentally ripping my corneas off: I have always been something of an eyeball rubber. (By that I mean someone who rubs their eyes, not protection from pornography-based STD’s). I was really nervous that within a few weeks of my surgery I would reenact some Greek tragedy; I’d find myself blind and screaming holding my corneas in clenched fists. Good news: I am still an eyeball rubber. (Stop laughing, you sicko.) I would certainly recommend taking your doctor’s advice in this area, but I have found it is possible to scratch an itch without filing for disability.

Surprise Complications
There is bad news too. There are a few problems that I did not expect. Anyone considering eye surgery should become aware these less known complications:

Looking less intelligent: I was asking my oldest who the smartest kid in his class was. Then I asked how he knew. “Well, he wears glasses.” Of course, when he saw my expression he back-pedaled: “Don’t worry dad, I know you are smart because you used to wear glasses.” Of course Kristin is more subtle, but the point is clear: “I think without glasses you look tough.” Too me “Tough” = “Brawny” = “Thug” = “Barbarian” = “Caveman” = “Barely comprehensible missing link.” Maybe that is a bit of a slippery slope, but the sentiment is there.

Destroying Sunglasses: One thing Lasik give you is a new appreciation for the exciting world of sunglasses. Of course, the problem with sunglasses is that you take them on an off constantly. Glasses you put on in the morning and take them off at night. You put on sunglasses and sip cool beverages, then pull them off for dramatic CSI moments. Your kids try them on, you set them next to the sink, they flip out of your pocket every time you reach for your cell, or fall out of your coat when you get out of the car. Suffice it to say, destroying sunglasses is an expensive hobby. I have gone through at least 3 pair in the last 8 months. Perhaps I should just take up Kefi -- better return on investment.

Power tools: Glasses give you a bold sense of invulnerability when it comes to power tools. Where others stop and timidly put on protective goggles, the glassed (like blessed, but for those with glasses) power up and jump in. (Note: Even the glassed really ought to be wearing eye protection.) There have been many times when something will bounce off my glasses, and I would just smile. Prepare to feel naked all the time. I am seriously considering getting a welding helmet for the next time we light sparklers.

Art: Surprisingly, corrected vision has made art more complicated--but for entirely different reasons. To me, art (like statistics) is an act of information reduction. You are looking for patterns and picking out what is important. In the past, I would tend to take my glasses off when I started a project, so I could focus on big shapes without being distracted by details. I don’t have that luxury any more. In order to compensate, I find myself squinting more, to reduce the information I am trying to recreate. Squinting for any length of time not only leads to wrinkles and headaches, but awkward conversations with passersby who feel compelled to state “You ought to get your vision checked.” I even tried wearing my old glasses to over correct my vision, but that didn’t work nearly as well as it sounds like it should. Still, someone should invent “uncorrective lenses.”

Overall, I think the investment was well worth it. Now I can start thinking about what genetic flaw I will be outwitting with corrective surgery next. Hmmm, hair-transplant surgery, liposuction, adamantine skeletal reinforcement, Bluetooth dentures: the possibilities are endless.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A hot mug of horror

Winter is finally here. And really nothing beats snuggling up with a nice big mug of hot chocolate and a good horror novel. I am particularly partial to Stephen King’s line of both.

Many people are unaware that their favorite horror writer and their favorite hot chocolatetier are one and the same person. Stephen King’s lifelong affection for the macabre is only transcended by his penchant steaming hot chocolate. He has had the fortune of achieving remarkable success on both fronts.

Of course, to truly appreciate either, you must have both. On the other side, however, it is often confusing and frustrating to be experiencing the dark recesses of human depravity with a hint of mint on your tongue. Likewise, who wants to imagine gibbering mutant freaks with peanut butter cups on their palate?

In that light I have prepared a list of book to flavor pairing for your next hedonistic escapade:

      • Stephen’s Peanut Butter cup cocoa would be an excellent compliment to Stephen King’s The Mist. Beware of the mysterious unidentifiable floaty things.

      • Stephen’s Milk Chocolate Cocoa has a classic taste. Try it while reading Pet Semetary. The flavor is almost earthy. Almost exhumed gravey.
      • Stephen’s Belgian Dark Cocoa is a must for the Dark Tower series.

      • While reading Misery, try Stephen's Orange Creme. When it comes to Orange Creme, I'm its number one fan.

      • Stephen's Raspberry pairs nicely with Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption. Raspberry is light on the palate, with a hint of hope.

      • Stephen's Irish Creme is a perfect complement to the Green Mile. In fact, the main character's name is a subtle nod to the flavor.

      • Stephen’s Cherry Chocolate is a very appropriate pairing with It. The strong overtones of cherry are reminiscent of fun times at the carnival and the bright red noses of clowns.

      • Stephen's Chocolate Mint Truffle is an electric compliment to the Stand. Now whenever I think of the end of the world (or Christmas), I taste mint.

      • Read Eyes of the Dragon with Stephen’s Gourmet Candycane Cocoa. Be sure to use a napkin.

      • Stephen’s Mexican Chocolate is a very fitting compliment to Firestarter. Just make sure it's hot.

      • Try reading Dead Zone with Stephen’s Italian Amaretto Cocoa. That nutty flavor will leave you sensing the future every time. I just wish I could have sipped a little and shaken Obama's hand . . . just in case.

      • Drink Stephen’s Chocolate Cinnamon Cocoa while reading The Shining. Remember, "all work and no cocoa makes Jack a dull boy."

      • Stephen’s Dulce De Leche Caramel would work well with Insomnia. This book just doesn't work without the desperate exhaustion created by warm milk.

      • Read Thinner with Stephen’s No Sugar Added Hot Cocoa. I think no additional explanation here is needed.
      I hope this list is helpful. Perhaps the most exiting tid-bit I can share, however, is the exciting marketing move King enterprises has recently made. Stephen King has final come to terms with this secret duel enterprise, as evidenced by his latest labeling campaign.

      Wednesday, November 05, 2008

      Election day apocalypse

      It has always been interesting to me that revealed truth comes phonetically. When the Book of Mormon was originally translated it contained almost no punctuation. Most of the punctuation was added in 1830 by the printer. I wonder if perhaps there may be other auditory accidentals in the Book of Mormon. Are there places where a verbalization was revealed, and a homophone was accidentally recorded?

      Perhaps, when the prophet heard the word "abomination," what was really intended was "Obama nation."

      Consider the following:

      The Book of Helaman, Chapter 7, versus 25-28:
      • Yea, wo be unto you because of that great [Obama Nation] which has come among you; and ye have united yourselves unto it, yea, to that secret band which was established by Gadianton!
      • Yea, wo shall come unto you because of that pride which ye have suffered to enter your hearts, which has lifted you up beyond that which is good because of your exceedingly great riches!
      • Yea, wo be unto you because of your wickedness and [Obama Nations]!
      • And except ye repent ye shall perish; yea, even your lands shall be taken from you, and ye shall be destroyed from off the face of the earth.
      I'll leave it to you to decide.

      Thursday, October 23, 2008

      Make your vote count! Vote Twice!

      It is the solemn responsibility of every blogger to “weigh” in their two cents during the election season. It is impossible to have no bias, so we might as well take a side. Here is my four cents:

      The “Man” wants you to believe that the US government is a democracy. Government by the people. Each vote carrying equal weight. At least that’s what they say. Maybe that’s what they believe. Really, that’s my point.

      I believe a government should be founded solidly in Noocracy. (i.e. government by the intelligent.) Specifically, a democracy where your vote is weighted by your intelligence. Statisticians weight survey responses all the time. Some people are unfortunately under-represented in the sample---this must be compensated for through proper weighting during statistical tests.

      For whatever reason, I believe that rational, intuitive thinkers are under-represented in our government. I can only assume they must therefore be under-represented at the polls. It only makes sense to statistically compensate.

      There are really two approaches to this model:

      Approach 1
      The first (and significantly more appropriate approach) is a macro-scale, top-down approach that eliminates votes that shouldn’t count. For example, one Dell Schanze (who affectionately refers to himself as “SuperDell”) is making a “Totally Awesome” run for the Governor of Utah.

      I think that’s great.

      It perfectly illustrates my point.

      I believe when all is said and done, when all the votes are tallied, any social security number associated with a “SuperDell” vote should receive a weight of zero. In every election. Forever.
      Don’t mistake me for taking away their right to vote. They can vote all they like. And when they vote, I think we should smile and nod, move to the next person and resume counting. Certainly, they don’t need to know no one is listening---we’re not trying to hurt anyone’s feeling here.

      Alternatively, ballots could be equipped with at least some kind of survey instrument that measures at least minimal awareness of the issues / candidates being voted on. If a voter doesn’t have a clue---their vote doesn’t count. That would at least reduce ignorant noise/random error in elections.

      Unfortunately, this approach relies on a rational, noocratic government to start the ball rolling. So how can you kick-start noocracy?

      Approach 2

      Cheat. Vote twice. This is noocracy at the grassroots level. It may be a bit Social Darwinistic, but I think people who are smart enough to figure out a way to vote twice without getting caught, deserve to receive a bit more weight at the polls. (Of course, this ~may~ be already happening [wink, wink] but obviously it is not happening enough.) If everyone tries to vote twice, the less intelligent will land in prison, leaving only the more intelligent voters to choose our representatives. And our course, our newly elected and uniquely qualified government will have some ingenious, spectacular solution to our sudden prison overcrowding problem.

      So get out there and vote. Then, to quote my shampoo bottle (since I don’t have anything else to do with it) “repeat.”

      Friday, August 29, 2008

      Playing Tag

      I really never thought I would actually play one of those obnoxious, I-don't-have-anything-to-write-about-so-I-guess-I-answer-a-long-list-of-self-serving-questions-pretending-other-people-are-interested tag games. I always figure no blog is better than a painful, space-filling blog. But since I am self-serving, and I can't think of anything to discuss, perhaps I'll tackle the challenge. (and since my sister tagged me ever so politely.)

      RULES: Answer the questions using only one word. Then tag four other people. Maybe you'll learn something new and with one word answers it will be short.

      (Warning: I've never been big on rules, so no promises.)

      1. Where is your cell phone? Roaming
      2. Your significant other? Superego
      3. Your hair? MIA
      4. Your mother? Mothering
      5. Your father? Mothered ;^)
      6. Your favorite thing? Thing 2 (He always seemed more sincere.)
      7. Your dream last night? Kinky
      8. Your favorite drink? The marrow of life
      9. Your dream/goal? See #7
      10. The room you’re in? YOURS! Muhahahahaha!
      11. Your hobby? Procrastination (it's a talent really.)
      12. Your fear? Dead animals. (seriously. I imagine dead people would fit in there too.)
      13. Where do you want to be in 6 years? 2014
      14. What you’re not? Done (17 to go)
      15. Muffins? Yes. (That's why I don't wear those halter tops anymore.)
      16. One of your wish list items? Tightwad! (Just one? I want them all!)
      17. Where you grew up? See #13
      18. The last thing you did? Answer #17
      19. What are you wearing? A glazed look
      20. Favorite gadget? Don Adams (The original!)
      21. Your pets? Depends. (Did they break something?)
      22. Your computer? On.
      23. Your mood? Contageous
      24. Missing someone? N/A (I don't even own a gun.)
      25. Your car? Parked (legally, I might add.)
      26. Something you’re not wearing? Patience. (I hope.)
      27. Favorite store? Abadoned (But still fully stocked.)
      28. Like someone? Bruce Willis (ideally. A bald John Goodman is more realistic.)
      29. Your favorite color? IKB
      30. When is the last time you laughed? Writing #28 (#29 wasn't that funny.)
      31. Last time you cried? See previous blog entry (July 23, 2008).

      I tag Kristin, Amber, Rebekah, and Eileen. (You didn't say "no tag backs!")

      Wednesday, July 23, 2008

      PRK vs. Lasik

      Four weeks ago I participated in the modern miracle that is laser eye-correction surgery. My perspective is somewhat unusual however, "seeing" (HAH!) as how I participated in a research study conducted at local medical school. My left eye received PRK treatment, and my right Custom Lasik. This gives me the ability---nay, the solemn responsibility---to educate inquisitive eyeball-modification aspirants in their choice.

      The Choices

      PRK stands for Post-Rectal Knitting. The "post-rectal" area--the area exactly opposite your bum, is, of course, your eye. The term original comes from the concept of getting to your eyeball via your back-pocket (i.e., wallet.) Even at a dramatic guinea pig discount, the surgery isn't cheap. "Knitting" refers to the size of the needle they stick in your eye to hold your eyelid open. More about that later . . .

      Lasik is just a friendlier term for "Set your phasers on disintegrate." If they called it Laser, you would immediately think about all those warnings they have on those little Laser-pointers that very clearly say "DON'T SHINE THIS IN YOUR EYE!!!". You might at that point have second thoughts when you see the surgical table with the gigantic James-Bond-Villain-style laser pointed at one end. You see, this isn't a Laser, per se, it's a Lasik--it's like a cute, fuzzy Pokémon character, only the "Poké" is in your eye.


      I had two evaluations before the surgery. Each one consisted of long explanations of what was going to happen, plenty of 70's sci-fi props, the ritualistic reading of letters from across the room, and opportunities to back out. If you look closely in the eyes of your nurses, you can sometimes catch a glimpse of their panicked and pleading fear--their desperate yearning to scream "Run! Now! Before it is too late! Never look back!", at the same time knowing that their paychecks depend on you not finding out . . .

      The Surgery

      There is a certain kind of energy that only comes in anticipation of elective surgery. It is kind of like getting to the top of the line of a water slide, but one where you searched the whole water park and couldn't see exactly where the slide emptied into a splash pool, so somewhere deep inside you wonder if it actually does, or if the slide is just slowly filling up with a blockage of dead bodies . . . kind of like that.

      As I entered the surgery room, they were testing the laser, which happens to sound exactly like a taser. That was not a soothing sound. ("Don't Lase me bro!") I was laid down on the surgery table, given a teddy bear to hold, and placed under a suspiciously warm blanket. I snickered to myself at the thought of needing a teddy bear, until I noticed the bare spots where fur had been pulled out by the handful. Nice.

      For a moment I reflected on that disturbing scene in Flash Gordon where a Lasik surgery gone awry reduces the doctor to a pre-zygotic vegetable. (I find it very help to reflect on movies during surgery--it helps lighten the mood. For example, during your wife's C-Section, it is helpful to discuss the disemboweling scene from Braveheart, or perhaps the "birth"-scene from the movie Alien. She'll think you're hilarious, I promise.)

      The real differences between the procedures is in the preliminary work on our eyeball:

      In Lasik a gigantic suction cup is attached to your eyeball. I am not sure of the details of this part because my conscious mind has not yet come to terms with the fact that it actually happened. My wife warned me going in that the procedure may trigger suppressed memories of alien abduction (as per "Fire in the Sky.") What I think is much more likely, however, is if I am ever abducted by aliens, it will trigger suppressed memories of Lasik surgery. I remember I had the uncontrollable urge to clamp my eye shut, as if I was hanging from a trapeze holding on with nothing but my eyelid. For all I know, they suctioned my eyeball out completely and were passing it around the room to be polished on someone's shirt sleeve.

      PRK is a more subtle procedure. The doctor just splashes some kind of acid jelly in your eye, then after a few minutes of sizzling, uses a miniature garden hoe to scrap of the top layer of your cornea. This sounds painful, but feels like you are walking on the moon now that the suction cup is off the other eye . . .

      Then comes the Tasering . . . I didn't feel a thing. I had been warned about the smell of boiling eyeball juice before, so I held my breath. It lasted eight seconds for each eye. By "eight seconds" I mean, eight 30-minute periods of intense trying to focus on an orange light that I couldn't see because the top of my eyeballs were missing, without moving. Somewhere deep down I was absolutely certain that Utah's way overdue earthquake was going to hit any second.

      PRK has one additional step that you skip in Lasik---the Waterboarding. They wash the gel out of your eye using ice water. It sounds innocent enough, certainly not as bad as Acid gel, but trust me on this point--it is much, much worse. According to my memory (and let me remind you I think there are some things my memory may still be repressing), this is the worst part of the surgery. Imagine an ice-cream headache, but rather than it coming on gradually, you surrendered control of the spoon and have ice-cream injected intravenously directly to that spot on your forehead. On top of that, and very unexpectedly, I couldn't breathe. I completely sympathise with how horrifying Waterboarding must be, because for those 30 seconds cold water was being poured on my eye, I had to frantically persuade my body that I was not actually drowning. That is not a sensation I am anxious to repeat.

      After the surgery, you are still flat on your back, clenching a couple handfuls of teddybear fur. Eyeballs still pried open. Doctors engaged in some casual conversation about local restaurants, while they wander the room taking turns dropping chemicals in your eyes. I think they just opened the doors and let anyone in the waiting room come in a drop anything they want into my eyes---there was an awful lot of chatting and dripping going on.

      From there it is easy, just a few minutes of sitting with your eyes closed, while seductive-voiced females give you instructions for eye-care. (It was actually impossible to avoid sneaking a peek at the distinctive sound of unzipping---as she placed my eyedrops into a little zippered bag.)

      The Recovery

      Four weeks later, recovery has been fairly easy. A couple trips to the doctor, a couple of nights with ridiculous looking eye shields, that somehow find their way under the bed in the middle of the night, developing a knack for putting in eye-drops, nothing too exciting. It really wasn't nearly as difficult as I imagined to not rub your eyes. (Before surgery, just thinking about not being able to rub my eyes made them itch.)

      My PRK eye is still pretty fuzzy, at my last check up it was 20/50. My Lasik eye is 20/15. Rumor has it that these next couple of weeks should be magic for that PRK eye however.

      My Recommendation

      Based on my experience, I think I would recommend Lasik to most people--it is hard to beat that almost instantaneous recovery time. It does have some worst-case scenario drawbacks, like the fact that your eyeballs might explode if you are in a plane that looses pressure, or a punch to the face might dislodge your eye flap. In either case, your probably have bigger problems to deal with anyway . . .

      The recovery with PRK is slow enough that if both eyes received that treatment, I would be effectively incapacitated. I would have to be waited on hand and foot, I wouldn't be able to drive, or cook, or clean. I would just need someone to kowtow to my every whim . . . for weeks . . . hmmm.
      PRK. Definitely. Go with PRK.

      (Follow-up posted 2/6/09)

      Wednesday, April 16, 2008

      The Rules on the Refrigerator

      In my home, it has been a long standing tradition to refer to the "The Rules on the Refrigerator." The tradition of nailing theses to frequented locales is a time-honored long-standing tradition. In ancient times, before the advent of the technology of refrigeration, large stone slabs, or cathedral doors were often used.

      Although, in my family of origin these often cited documents were purely hypothetical in nature, we all new exactly what they were, and could recite them on demand.

      With my own family, I would like to continue that tradition, and perhaps do it one better: Publish said proscriptive documentation to the web.

      Here it goes, as recorded on our refrigerator, complete with the reasoning behind them:

      Be Polite

      Every time you belch (or swear, talk with your mouth full, etc.), the man or woman of your dreams dies. A quick and sincere “Excuse me” might save him/her. Maybe. Barely.

      Be Obedient

      Once dad starts counting, he can’t stop until the assigned task has begun. If he reaches the number five, untold horrors are released on the world. Ancient evil slumbering gods will awaken, and the universe as we know it will cease to exist.

      Be Happy

      Every time you whine, neener, or complain, somewhere in the world a butterfly poops. You don’t want to the world to be filled with butterfly poop, do you? NOTE: This rule fulfills the ancient law: “Cry babies will go to their room and not get what they cry for”, and its corollary variant “. . . cry what they get for.”

      Be Kind
      Never decrease another’s happiness. In the last day the total number of bubbles in our respective celestial Jacuzzis is directly proportional to the cumulative net increase of ‘HU’s accrued over your life-time. (HU = Happiness Unit, or the equivalent of a smile lasting one second on a one-year-old person.)

      Be Loyal
      If you dishonor yourself, home, parents, spouse, siblings, or kids, you dishonor the whole family. Your children and your children’s children will rue the day you brought shame to the family name. They will blot out their own names to avoid association with the fallen and disgraced family of Stanley. Family comes first, and only marriage comes before children. NOTE: At the age of 21 you earn a single disloyalty exemption to betray your family one time. Use it wisely.

      Thursday, April 10, 2008

      Focusing on our strengths . . .

      I have no idea how BYU is doing on the sports front. I understand they win some and they loose some. This bit of information continuously vexes the fanatical following of Cougar fans who seem to hinge their testimony on the triumph of "God's football team."

      I am all behind BYU being God's University. I have a bit of news for those Cougar-ragous blue bloods however . . .
      1. God doesn't care about football.
      2. God cares about chocolate milk.
      BYU keeps pretty tight lips about the salaries of their lead employees. I suspect however, there is one executive that makes more that the head coach: the director of the creamery. Meeting in secret in the tunnels under the campus, the Chocus Dei consists of four emeritus members of the quorum of the seventy, who together are the sole keepers of the ancient recipe. For decades that secret organization has protected the secret of their ambrosia in chocolate.
      Rumor has it that Dan Brown is currently working on a ground-breaking novel exposing this whole organization, and their long, delicious history.

      Friday, February 22, 2008

      Footprints in the Sand

      It had always puzzled me. The footprints . . .

      In 1936 Mary Stevenson penned the wildly famous all-time-greatest-poetry-single, "Footprints in the Sand." Since that time her compelling words have been cannonized into bookmarks, inspirational posters, coffee mugs, T-shirts--all the usually places you look for Holy Writ.

      Revelation came in the form of an email this morning, the forwarded wisdom recorded by one from another, passing between e-mailboxes until it came to me. (The standard method for disseminating powerful truths.)

      To quote:

      The bishop said that during Jesus' time, when a sheep made a habit out of running away the shepherd did indeed go after it, but when he found it . . . he would break the sheep's leg.
      "This is what Jesus does to us," the bishop said. "Then he oh so tenderly sets the leg."
      That's why you see all those pictures of the shepherd walking around with a sheep slung over his neck. The shepherd broke the sheep's leg . . . and therefore the sheep is now completely reliant on the shepherd. They grow very close this way.

      It is in that light I would propose a minor addition to Mary's poem to explicitly express this powerful doctrine.

      Footprints in the Sand

      One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord. Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky. In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand. Sometimes there were two sets of footprints, other times there was one only.

      This bothered me because I noticed that during the low periods of my life, when I was suffering from anguish, sorrow or defeat, I could see only one set of footprints, so I said to the Lord,

      "You promised me Lord, that if I followed you, you would walk with me always. But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life there has only been one set of footprints in the sand. Why, when I needed you most, have you not been there for me?"

      The Lord replied, "The years when you have seen only one set of footprints, my child, is when I

      Monday, April 03, 2006

      Vicks NyQuil pushes “The OTHER Option”

      In a new, groundbreaking marketing campaign, NyQuil is publishing research showing a dramatic reduction of parental stress in families where children receive properly supervised medical sedation. Their research shows evidence that 75% of all hostile parent-child cannibalism incidents could have been prevented if children slept more deeply between the hours of 11 pm and 4 am.

      NyQuil Executives have adjusted the well established NyQuil brand name to include the image of Spanish artist Francisco de Goya’s “Saturn,” the mythological titian and recognized "poster child" of familial cannibalism. The forthcoming campaign boasts their new slogans:

      • “The no alcohol, no aspirin, nighttime, sniffling, sneezing, stuffy head, coughing, so you don’t eat your children medicine.”
      • “NyQuil—The OTHER option.”

      Friday, March 31, 2006

      Romulan Noodles

      Romulan Noodles, as they are properly called, are the victim of a flubbed merchandizing effort of Gene Roddenberry in his original Star Trek series.

      In episode 59, “The Enterprise Incident” Captain Kirk fakes his own death, and teleports onboard a Romulan Warbird do a little imperial espionage. In the process of getting his hands on the top-secret Romulan cloaking device, he is forced into an awkward scene where he needs to consume ethnic food or blow his cover. He immediately falls in love with a particular dish called Romulan noodles.

      “Oh My . . . It tastes . . . just like chicken! . . . like . . . Iowa fried . . . chicken!”

      The Star Trek Franchise was poised for immediately release of “Romulan Noodles” into the marketplace following the first showing of the episode. Unfortunately, do to a miscommunication with production, the work “Romulan” was horribly misspelled. The mistake discovered all to late. The scene was awkwardly cut from the episode.

      Even with the misprint, “Ramen noodles" was an instant success with college-age bachelors. Marketing resisted any suggestions to re-brand the noodle.

      Of course, hardcore fans will want to know how modern-day sales of Romulan Noodles fit into the Star Trek universe. In the original long-term scope of the series, that question was to be answered in the fourth movie “The Voyage Home.” There Kirk snuck a pack of Romulan noodles back to the 20th century for easy snacking. Once in San Francisco, he fell in love with, (and of course gets his shirt torn by) a fun-loving transvestite named Maggi Mee. (S)he reverse engineers the noodles and makes a fortune.

      Logically, after the misprinted packages were released, this subplot idea was also scrapped.

      Monday, March 27, 2006

      Ode to Pus Logs

      Of the flavor, I have no complaints. It is everything else.

      I believe my least favorite fruit is the banana. (The name descends from the original Hawaiian word for “cylindrical zit, a.k.a., pus log”) Hear is my “rule of tongue”: Any fruit the you can “chew” by smashing it with your tongue against the roof of your mouth is plainly off limits for my digestive system.

      Really, I have no complaints against those that enjoy a good banana periodically. In fact, I encourage you to be true to the original form of consumption. To truly experience a banana, you need simply to bite off the back end, forming a small hole opposite the stem. Then, starting from the stem, squeeze your fingers around the fruit and pull towards the hole like a tube of toothpaste. Enjoy the concentrated white pus that comes squirting out. That’s right. Like a bloated zit that bursts a chunky glob of tasteless paste in your direction. Mmm, mmm good.

      Thursday, March 23, 2006

      Ben and Jerry’s: Manna, Ambrosia, or Panacea

      From youth I have always had the mistaken belief that food either tasted good or it was good for you. Those two polar extremes have proven discrete time and time again throughout my life.

      There is one company however, that has turned everything I thought I knew about food upside down. They have taken those two mutually exclusive, entirely incompatible, concepts and merged them into a food that by every law of nature should not exist. Physics and chemistry, the twin culinary sciences, gape in silent astonishment. It is almost as if they have taken matter and anti-matter, and forged something entirely new---Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream.

      The name Ben and Jerry’s, of course, is a catchy abbreviation of its two primary ingredients, Benadryl and Geritol. Ben and Jerry’s has the combined potency of an iron supplement and the alluring, blissful, head-throbbing, sedating effect of an antihistamine. Together the flavor knocks you flat on your back, and brings you back from the dead a week later begging for more.

      There are several variety of Ben and Jerry’s available over the counter, but due to the temperature requirements, it is often kept in the frozen foods rather than the pharmacy.

      • Ben and Jerry’s Plus (with Zinc)
      • Maximum Strength Ben and Jerry’s
      • Ben and Jerry’s Cough and Sore Throat
      • Ben and Jerry’s Children’s Nappy-time with Codeine
      • Ben and Jerry’s Anti-inflammatory with Estrogens and Progestins

      Ask your doctor if you would like to know more about Ben and Jerry's mediations available at prescription strength.

      Newly developed alternative administration methods include:

      • Ben and Jerry’s Children’s Chewable tablets
      • Ben and Jerry’s Topical Ointment
      • Ben and Jerry’s Suppository
      • Ben and Jerry’s Nasal Spray
      • Ben and Jerry’s Live cultures vaccine injection

      A BJ a day, keeps the doctor away!


      Excessive use of Ben and Jerry's can cause bloating and sluggishness. In some cases, people report irritability, depression, anxiety, psychosis, tic (or stereotyped repetitive movement), soreness, itching, headaches, chills, nausea, fatigue, spontaneous cardiovascular arrest, fever, aches, attraction to magnets, hallucinations, uncontrollable bowels, mild rash, seizures, inflammation of the parotid gland, coma, muscle wasting, excessive abdominal gas, heartburn, change in eating habits, addition, possiveness over the medication (to the point of violence), and in rare cases, weight gain (to the point of morbid obesity.)

      Tuesday, March 21, 2006

      Fondo – The Way of the Fork

      For generations a hidden martial art has been passed from father to son. This art has evolved over thousands of years. It originated from deep within the aboriginal pre-historic French rainforests. There, while fighting over a limited food supply, the first forks were created by mustached cave-people.
      Today, in our bounteous plenty, the primary purpose of the fork has been forgotten. It is more than a utensil for moving food towards the mouth---it is a weapon to keep competitors for a scarce resource at bay.

      The art originated as a way of life—a literal “survival-of-the-fittest.” Today it is ceremoniously practiced exclusively during a French ritual called “Fondue.” Points are scored as “morsels” are retrieved, dipped in “fodder” (a pot of molten sauce, usually some kind of dairy), and consumed. Long minutes are spent in psychological warfare---waiting, biding time, feinting, looking for that split second opportunity to claim the prize. Although blood is common at these events, the injuries are not usually lethal---they tend to target the hands and arms (although in heated competitions the cheeks, chins, thighs, and necks can become engaged in melee.)

      There are three primary types of instrument used in fondo—(1) the skewer, the most primitive, single-pointed instrument. (2) the trident—a three-tanged fork, and (3) the classical bident—a two-tanged fork. Additional tangs add the benefit of catching an opponents fork, possibly de-forking him entirely. It also allows a more firm grasp on morsels (very helpful if the morsels a soft fruit (such as bananas) or the fodder is particular viscous (such as chocolate). Fewer tangs does provide the advantages of a deeper jab—possibly sliding morsels down the skewer, exposing the point for further attacks, and more penetrating power against thickly clothed opponents. (Although against regulation and considered a dishonorable practice, some street-fondo practitioners will wear gardening gloves.)

      An outline of basic forms of Fondo include:

      • Classical—Single fork in the primary hand. The unarmed hand is held behind the back.
      • Natural—Single fork, but the unarmed hand is free to assist with blocks, parries, and if necessary, grapples. Although it is considered bad form in the United States, the unarmed hand could also be used to de-morsel an opponent’s fork.
      • International—The international form utilizes a fork in each hand. Often one fork will be shorter than the other, and used primarily for parrying the opponent’s fork, or making attacks against his person.
      • Twin-picks---Twin-picks is a specific subset of the International form, involving a very short wooden skewer in each hand (about the size of a toothpick). These contests often become very brutal. The skewers are fragile enough to be broken easily, so they are usually held in a closed fist until making an attempt at a morsel. Without exposed forks, the contest quickly evolved into a fist-fight.
      • Darthfork—This relatively new form involves a modified double sided fondo fork. This gives the advantage of holding food on one side, while threatening with the other. International Darthfork (one double-sided fork held in each hand) creates a dizzying blur of steel and strawberries.

      Although it is unclear what retaliation I might face for making public the secrets of Fondo, I will attempt to reveal more moves, techniques, and strategies in the near future.

      Monday, March 20, 2006

      Welcome to the Wal-Mart California

      In 1976 the Eagles released their enduring classic “Hotel California.” Little known to the world at large, the title is a result of a lawsuit filed by the Wal-Mart cooperation days after the initial release. The original title “Wal-Mart California” was seen as a direct attack against the quickly growing monolithic corporation. Fortunately, the judicial mandate required only removing the word Wal-Mart from the song---leaving the lyrics otherwise intact. With the original intent of the composers in mind, the meaning of the lyrics becomes clear . . .
      (This propagandistic appeal imagines Wal-Mart spreading its influence into the desert highways of California. A fear that was realized 14 years after the release of the song.)

      “On a dark desert highway--Cool wind in my hair”
      --This is a specific reference to a Wal-Mart in Palm Springs California—The normally blistering Santa Ana winds being mysteriously chill with some dark presence . . .

      “Warm smell of colitis--Rising up through the air”
      --Colitis is an anagram for “Cist oil”—which is a reference to the decomposing ooze which seeps out from the edges of a poorly made tomb. This is as accurate of a description as I have found to express that unidentifiable smell that surrounds a Wal-Mart.

      “Up ahead in the distance--I saw a shimmering light”
      --Strategic positioning of illuminated Wal-Mart signs allows their fluorescently flickering images to be seen miles away in the desert air.

      “My head grew heavy, and my sight grew dim--I had to stop for the night”
      --Because of the ubiquitous nature of Wal-Mart, it has become a regular stop on late-night long-distance drives. It has been suggested that the singer intended to actually spend the night at the Wal-Mart—which (although I suspect it happens regularly) is unlikely. Rather---he is traveling throughout the night, and requires a restroom and Snickers break.

      “There she stood in the doorway--I heard the mission bell”
      --“She,” of course, the archetype of the femme fatal, is Capitalism’s harpy, the Wal-Mart greeter.
      The “mission bell” as it is often referred to by employees, is the alarm that goes off whenever: (1) Someone passes the door with a product that hasn’t been scanned, (2) Every 13th customer, regardless of what they have with them, and (3) every 34 minutes, whether a customer is near or not.

      “And I was thinking to myself--This could be Heaven or this could be Hell”
      --I really think no additional explanation is needed here . . .

      “Then she lit up a candle--And she showed me the way”
      --This phrase is often mistaken for the actual, literal, igniting of a waxen taper. The original intent here is to express the barely perceptible increase in excitement by the Wal-Mart greeter. “Candle” in this case, refers directly to a measure of luminosity. (Specifically, 1 candle = 1/60 of the luminous intensity per square centimeter of a black body radiating at the temperature of 2,046 degrees Kelvin)
      The greeter seemed to illuminate with interest, ever so slightly, as she handed him a cart and bid him enter the store. The greeter represents the only hint left of humanity within the walls of Wal-Mart.

      “There were voices down the corridor”
      --This is a reference to “Musak” down the aisles of the store.

      “I thought I heard them say:”
      “Welcome to the [Wal-Mart] California”

      Such a lovely place” (repeated)
      “Such a lovely face”

      “Plenty of room at the [Wal-Mart] California”
      “Any time of year” (repeated)
      “You can find it here” (repeated)

      --Of course, the hypnotic background Musak does not include the words above—at least, not in a way you can recognize. It has long been speculated however, that the musical background is simply a medium for the transmission of subconscious messages. It stands to reason that this chorus is one such message.

      “Her mind is Tiffany twisted”
      --Tiffany is the etomological descendant of the Greek “Theophania” meaning “god appearing”. The Eagles here suggest that Wal-Mart is a twisted variation on the appearance of God.

      “She's got the Mercedes bends”
      --Often misheard by untrained listeners as “Mercedes,” what the singer actually intended was “Merci dis”— French for “Say Thank you.” In a rather crass analogy, the singer is suggesting that Wal-Mart has you “bent over,” presumably for some unpleasant invasion of your wallet, and expects you to thank her for the opportunity.

      “She's got a lot of pretty, pretty boys--That she calls friends”
      --Although the greeters and the registrars all smile, and Wal-Mart tries to make its “associates” (i.e., employees) feel like friends, there is something insincere about the relationship.

      “How they dance in the courtyard--Sweet summer sweat”
      --The employees of Wal-Mart move rhythmically and purposely, suggesting a kind of happiness through industry.

      “Some dance to remember--Some dance to forget”
      --Although all the employees are in a state of purgatory . . . some are working to remember their former lives—constantly striving to see the sky though the dominating florescent buzz. Others surrender to the ill-wind of capitalism—trying to forget their hard-earned degrees in obsolete technology.

      “So I called up the Captain”
      --Upon seeing the employees express their stoic bliss through ‘dance,’ the singer addresses Sam Walton, specifically . . .

      “Please bring me my wine”
      --Wine being an allusion to the Arcadian idyllic tranquility suggested by the ‘dance’

      “He said--We haven't had that spirit here since 1969
      --On Halloween, 1969, Wal-Mart incorporates. The missing spirit is another reference to that “calm” characteristic that is the antithesis of a Saturday afternoon at Wal-Mart.

      “And still those voices are calling from far away--Wake you up in the middle of the night”
      --A clear reference to the anger hordes of toddlers weeping, wailing, and gnashing their teeth through the isles, pushed in carts by dazed and apathetic parents.

      “Just to hear them say”
      “Welcome to the Wal-Mart California”
      “Such a lovely Place” (repeated)
      “Such a lovely face”
      “They're livin' it up at the Wal-Mart California”
      “What a nice surprise” (repeated)
      “Bring your alibis”

      --Again, another rendering of the subliminal Musak message . . .with a sarcastic remark at the end, as the singer sees through the illusionary happiness of the place. The singer is thinking of all the places he would rather be at the moment. He is certainly not, “livin’ it up.” The surprise is certainly not “nice,” and the whole venture is made all the more painful if you bring a list of places you could be instead. (Alibis comes from the Latin “alius” (other) on the model of “ibi” (there), meaning “Bring a list of places you would rather be”)

      “Mirrors on the ceiling--Pink champagne on ice”
      --This is a reference to the security cameras and the boxes of Cherry 7-Up always on sale.

      “And she said:”
      “We are all just prisoners here--Of our own device”
      --The Wal-Mart greeter, (who turns out to the to be the hero of the song), pulls the singer behind a several crates of Cherry 7-Up to escape the security cameras. She explains how Wal-Mart, (referred to by some as the “Whore of all the Earth,” or “The Great and Spacious Building”) has transcended its original bulk-marginal-profit plan and become a self-directing avalanche of capitalistic momentum, sweeping its employees and customers along in the current.

      “And in the master's chambers”
      “They gathered for the feast”
      “They stab it with their steely knives”
      “But they just can't kill the beast”
      --In 1972, Wal-Mart opened on the New York Stock exchange. At that moment, the “beast” took on a life of its own, the stock splitting three times before the publication of this song four years later. Ever since, despite the masses of lawsuits and take-over attempts Wal-Mart continues to grow unabated (“steely knives” being a metaphor for anti-trust lawyers, named for their conservative, pointy ties). It currently accounts for over a third of US dollars spent on both leg-razors and zucchini.

      “Last thing I remember--I was running for the door”
      “I had to find the passage back to the place I was before”
      --Finally, the singer’s eyes have been completely opened. He understandably seeks escape. This “oasis” in the California desert was in reality an insidious mart of Walls.

      “Relax said the night man” (Short for “night manager”)
      “We are programmed to receive”
      “You can check out any time you like--But you can never leave”

      --At the conclusion of the song, the point is finally crystallized. No one ever leaves a Wal-Mart with more money than they came in with. We always return. Even if we manage never to pass through the sliding-glass gates of Hell again, we have left a piece of our soul behind. No man exits a Wal-Mart whole.

      Friday, March 17, 2006

      St. Patrick and the Guild of Leprechauns

      Little is known of the mysterious past of St. Patrick’s day. Allow me to illuminate what little we do know:

      It was Halloween 1517. A kind monk by the name of Martin Luther was dressed up in a costume that would centuries later become the inspiration behind Batman. He would playfully grab passing children, dressed up in their pagan costumes (According to, that year Hephaestus, the lame Greek god of metalwork, was the costume of choice), and beat them with licorice strips until they were all laughing so hard he couldn’t continue.

      He saw what he thought was a group of children gathered around the local cathedral door, but as he approached they scattered. They had carved profanities into the door—95 in all. Luther carefully placed a Post-It (Often referred to by its Latin name: “Theses”) over each marking, and writing instructions to the cathedral door-polisher to “Remove the hidden scars from the Church.” (Unfortunately, these were discovered by the bishop first, leading to the single greatest misinterpretation of an event in history.)

      Unfortunately, Martin Luther never had a chance to correct the mistake, for unbeknownst to him, that night a group of convicts escaped the local leper colony. The disease had stunted their growth, and driven them madly superstitious. These “leper-cons” were spotted several times in the days following Martin Luther’s mysterious disappearance . . . ranting wild folk melodies, smelling of clover, feasting on human flesh.

      Martin Luther’s roommate, John Calvin, wanted to keep the utilities in Martin Luther’s name, so he perpetuated the myth that he was still alive.

      For the next several years, the leper-cons terrorized various villages, showing up sporadically all over Europe. As their numbers grew, so did their sophistication. They operated as a savage guild of potted-candle-makers, whose influence spread across the continent. Eventually they began to operate as a unified organization under the charismatic leadership of a cunning Irish midget named Trick.

      The Guild of Leper-Cons reached unprecedented notoriety, and Trick took upon himself the title of “Father.” (referred to in old Irish as “Pa”)

      28 years after their first attack, the nineteenth ecumenical council of the Catholic Church opened at Trent to discuss a resolution to this persistent problem. If rumors are to be believed, PaTrick himself held a secret meeting with several cardinals and high-ranking officials from the Church’s sister organization, Hallmark. On March 17th, a compromise was reached granting each of the leper-cons a “Pot ‘o Gold” and imbuing PaTrick his Sainthood. The compromise worked---the attacks stopped, and the image of “Leprechauns” has evolved into the lovable clover-wielding misers we know today.

      Of course, the whole “I-get-to-pinch-you-if-you-are-not-wearing-green” thing was invented in the 20’s by an old business executive with a young attractive secretary. The color was irrelevant; he just picked the color she wasn’t wearing that day. It is amazing what some people will believe.

      Thursday, March 16, 2006

      Where is this place, Corne, and how do they make such delicious little animals? And what game, exactly, do they play?

      So persistent were these nagging questions in my mind that I decided to do a little research. Corne is a Mediterranean island off the bootlace side of Italy. (On most maps it is referred to by it’s proper Italian name, Corsica.) In fact, rumor has it, that this island that was the original inspiration behind Jurassic park. Of course, rather than breeding the monstrous prehistoric reptiles that we have seen in the movie, they breed the miniature prehistoric mammals that we read about in textbooks. (Interesting note: Corsica island neighbor, Sardinia, is the home of the similarly bred “Sardina Game Fish”---a miniature fish we know as Sardines.)

      These miniature animals are the result of research done by the international toy conglomerate Hasbro. Originally the Cornish “Game” Hen was devised as an experimental living game chit, intended for release in the Dungeons and Dragons line of miniatures “Giants of Legend.” Unfortunately, a group of animal rights activist got involved, and now, rather than playing with them, we deep fry them.

      Now mind you, the widely known (and much appreciated) Cornish Game Hen is only one of an often overlooked group of miniature Cornish animals.

      Once or twice a year—St. Patrick’s day being the most consistent—we get out our heaviest pot, chop up some veggies, and have a reverent ceremony. Walmart always puts Cornish Game Cow on sale a few days before the holiday. Something about the method of butchering a miniature cow affects the flavor, so “Corned beef” (as it is often referred to in the US) is sold in either point cut (killed in the traditional spear-throwing method) or flat cut (killed by morning-star, a method preferred by some connoisseurs).

      The other wildly popular Cornish miniature mammal in the United States is the Cornish Game Dog. A vast majority of these pups are harvested from dog farms at a tender and juicy age. Most often served with a traditional cornbread coating and a wooden dowel longitudinally inserted from the back end, it is a favorite for children and adult alike.

      Hopefully I have been helpful in illuminating a bit of the fascinating background behind some of our favorite Cornish delights. Hopefully you take a moment to thank your local importer next time you grab a corn dog for lunch.

      Wednesday, March 15, 2006

      Tymz translation of the bible . . .

      There is a misconception that the ancient Hebrews were relatively primitive in the arts of medicine and surgery. This misconception exists because the only real biblical reference to the healing arts is the so named “Balm of Gilead.” Unfortunately, this is the result of a rather embarrassing misinterpretation of the original writings. In fact, the Balm of Gilead is not a reference to medical terminology at all.

      I will spare you from a lengthy discussion of etymology and semantics; let it suffice to say, “Gilead” is an ancient word meaning “a frigid palace,” or in what our modern technological vocabulary would call a “refrigerator.” Because of the unfortunate ambiguity of the root word, several other health-related words have been mistranslated as well.

      “Balm” also has similarly ancient roots. It quite literally translates to “Fresca” one of the most prized beverages in the ancient world. It was often referred to as the “everlasting water of life” for it was unimaginable that one could take a sip and thirst ever again.

      Hopefully this will knowledge will grant you additional insight as you study the scriptures. For example:

      Jeremiah 8:22
      “Is there no balm [Fresca] in Gilead [the refrigerator]; is there no physician [fizzies] there? Why then is not the health [thirst] of the daughter of my people recovered [quenched]?”

      Doesn’t that make all the more poignant the anguish of the inhabitants of Jerusalem?

      Jeremiah 46:11
      “Go up into Gilead [the refrigerator], and take balm [Fresca], O virgin, the daughter of Egypt: in vain shalt thou use many medicines [sodas]; for thou shalt not be cured [quenched].”

      In this chapter, Jeremiah compares the looming fall of the Egyptians to one who drinks Fresca, but without quenching their thirst. Can you imagine what that must have been like? Drinking a Fresca, but without the bubbling, tingling, long-lasting refreshment?

      Genesis 37:25
      “And they sat down to eat bread: and they lifted up their eyes and looked, and, behold, a company of Ishmeelites came from Gilead [the refrigerator] with their camels bearing spicery and balm [Fresca] and myrrh [tapioca pudding pearls], going to carry it down to Egypt.”

      Now, that sounds like a caravan I want to be a part of!