Sunday, July 29, 2007

Mr. Clean's Dark Side

Hi All!

Ammonia is a useful thing, for example, it is a great household cleaner.

Ammonia is a dangerous thing when your body produces but doesn't clear out.

Such is one insidious symptom of end-stage liver disease.

If I were not swigging a syrup called lactulose I would probably had at least one encephalitic coma by now.

The liver, among its many under-appreciated functions, purges the ammonia that naturally occurs in digestion. If the liver goes on strike, the ammonia heads for the brain rather than the poop chute.

Lactulose gives you, um, frequent watery stools but with each discharge comes the relief of knowing that you won't get too messed up in your head.

The doctor told me that if I forget to swig the syrup regularly, by the time I realize I am losing it it may be to late to avoid the coma deal.

So I thank God for this magic mead.

Even under control, there is no way to avoid the forgetfulness, light-headed dizziness, very emotional mood swings.

There was a time when my less coherent posts were alcohol related brain farts. I still write that way sometimes but the reason now is the encephalopathy. Or the occasional bowl of pipe weed.

I am on a liver transplant discussion group where it is comforting to find out that you are not alone, let alone insane.

A sampling of today's posts, although of a common type, compelled me to post this.

"I sometimes have a change in my ammonia levels. To be sure I stay
ok, I stay at home and DON'T drive. Plus,keep a calender with your meds and
mark when you take them so you don't repeat a dosage or miss one.
If you pay attention to forgetting,you will notice when you get
stumped as to what you were going to say,or forget the subject.
Good Luck & be aware....Shelby"

"Most likely others will notice a change in you due to high ammonia levels before you do. Jon would get vicious when he went high, and he would go high because he would give into his cravings for protein, not easy to keep a teen away from certain foods. But the TX team would always be available to help us when we called."

"You know you need to call the doctor about the ammonia problems. Sometimes they can creep up on you and you don't notice. Didn't they give you some pills to take back in November around the time I came to Florida that also helped when you had problems with ammonia buildup? Has Bill noticed anything different? Are you slurring your words again? I lost all the email addresses in my computer so I haven't been able to email you and you haven't written much to the group lately. Usually when you email me I can tell a big difference in your writing. Let me hear from you and make sure you get in touch with someone on your tx team."

This is another "Me Me ME" post. Sorry for the self-indulgence.


Saturday, July 28, 2007

Storm at the Lake

Nice Trip to the Lake

Hi All!

I visited my folks for a couple of days and all the accumulated emotions, angst, happiness and hurts I brought home were dispelled by a lifesaver of a song I heard on the FM as I drove the last few blocks to home.

Somehow, it just made sense in a way that perhaps only I can appreciate at this moment.

There is so much to write about "Me Me Me" so I'll act out through Lou Reed's "Jenny", as in what the eff, to keep my emotions in check.

Talk about the right song to hear at the right time ...

Jenny said, when she was just five years old
There was nothin' happening at all
Every time she puts on the radio
There was nothin' goin' down at all, not at all
Then, one fine mornin', she puts on a New York station
You know, she couldn't believe what she heard at all
She started shakin' to that fine, fine music
You know, her life was saved by rock'n'roll

Despite all the imputations
You know, you could just go out
And dance to a rock'n'roll station
And it was all right, hey baby,
You know, it was all right

Jenny said, when she was just about five years old
`You know, my parents are gonna be the death of us all
Two TV sets and two Cadillac cars
Well, you know, ain't gonna help me at all`

Then, one fine morning, she turns on a New York station
She doesn't believe what she hears at all
Ooh, she started dancin' to that fine, fine music
You know, her life was saved by rock'n'roll
Yeah, rock'n'roll

Despite all the computations
You could just dance to that rock'n'roll station
And baby, it was all right, yeah
Hey, it was all right
Hey, here she comes now

Jenny said, when she was just about five years old
'Hey, you know, there's nothin' happening at all, not at all
Every time I put on the radio
You know, there's nothin' goin' down at all, not at all
But, one fine morning, she hears a New York station
She couldn't believe what she heard at all, hey, not at all
She started dancing to that fine, fine music
You know, her life was saved by rock'n'roll
Yes, rock'n'roll

Despite all the computations
You know, you could just dance to the rock'n'roll station

All right
All right, all right, and it was all right
Oh, listen to me now, it was all right
Come on now, believe me, it was all right
it was all right
hey, it's all right now,.......

Well, not really. But this is a hellofalot of a substitute for the post I was composing in my mind heading south on 35 tonight.

I try to write stuff down before I forget. Stuff happened that I will never forget, but I may not ever tell -- unless I decide to expose a horse's ass.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Whatever Happened To....

Hi All!

I have been thinking about all the chicken little scares and "big" trends that have been promulgated in my life. I will add to the list as I think more about it but I invite commenters to help me out, WOULD YA, COULD YA?

My archest critic has admonished my recently saying this blog is too much me me me. So here is a chance to be democratic and to solicit suggestions to:

Whatever Happened To...

The Population Bomb
Mutually Assured Destruction
The New Ice Age
The Fuel Crisis
Personal Responsibility
Ozone Holes
Silent Spring (DDT)
AIDS (I know, but the predictions were far more dire than needed be.)
Letting Lawns Go "Dormant" During A Drought

Ok, that's a small start. Please send me some ideas through comments or directly to me at


People with agendas have been feeding the gullible public such scary tripe forever, is seems.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The 100 Year Rainfall

Hi All!

Hard to believe that 20 short years have transpired since the mother of all rain storms drowned the Twin Cities.

We lived in a cute bungalow on Randolph near my old alma mater, Cretin High.

Although the house was on an elevation, we had nagging basement water seepage since we soon-to-be newlyweds bought the place in 1980.

We spent quite a bit to alleviate the problem and it was solved enough for us to finish the basement as my office/computer room (and believe me, a computer took up big room in 1986).

My good friend, blogger extraordinaire Mitch of Shot in the Dark relates his own nightmare of that July 24, 1987 night of endless downpour.

He got trapped on the freeway with a leaking ragtop Jeep and writes a good story about it as linked above.

Our experience was in-house.

The 21 inches of rain that fell in a few short hours was overwhelming. Water was literally shooting through the basement walls as if from a fire plug and the whole night was spent sucking water into the Shop Vac and running to the laundry room to empty it out and back and forth it went for about 8 hours.

As morning broke, the flow was down to a seep and we had managed not to let much water get into the newly finished office space.

Totally spent, we celebrated. We won!

I was so tired I couldn't sleep so I headed out into the beautiful clear morning to check things out.

The most lasting impression I have is standing on the Randolph bridge over what would some day become I-35E but was just a dirt culvert. It looked like the Mississippi. I'll bet one could kayak all the way from Jefferson to Shepard Road.

One year later at the same time and in our new home in Falcon Heights, the grass and shrubs were dying in the midst of a record drought.

Mother Nature -- Gotta love her. She do what she pleases to us puny little ants that crawl about the earth and worry that we need to put on hair shirts and sacrifice our economy at the altar of the unholy Church of Global Warming.


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Beetle Bug'n

Hi All!

I've been giving my 36-year companion a good workout and detailing the heck out of it. The 20-something-year-old re-paint is starting to crack and craze a bit, but it still looks damned good and runs like a young colt.

Funny, perhaps, that I never named my Bug or given it a sex. The sex part is easy, as the German word for car starts with Der, as in "Der Volkswagen", not Die or Das, so cars are masculine.

Never was inspired to give it a name other than "The Beetle." That's what it is, a conglomeration of parts, not a "Herbie."

During my brief flirtation with the Mercedes, I could not help but notice that the instrument cluster illumination was lacking, which was a bit disconerting on a late night drive as I couldn't read me speed.

Last night as I tooled around with The Beetle it struck me that the simple little instrument cluster still lit up at night, by one tiny 36-year-old bulb.

Of the dozens of German cars (really, several dozens, believe it or not -- you can ask my family) There were always instrumentation bulbs that were out and a royal pain to replace.

A typical Merkur Scorpio has about 8 bulbs in it's large and comprehensive cluster. The oldest Merkur is a 19-year-old young adult compared to the middle aged Texas Yellow cute little bundle of go go fun.

Why did I remark at that last night? I wish I handn't 'cos tonight the bulb burned out.

If I was into symbolism, that would be pretty heavy, but I know how to replace it with a fitty-cent part that doesn't require dismantling the dash.

The simpler cars -- and life -- can be made, the easier the journey.

I don't regret losing that Mercedes...well, just a little.


PS. Click on the picture and get an eyeful -- I never know how these pictures will post but there is great detail and you can read a few interesting stickers -- note also the date on the license plate -- Minnesota let's you display the original year's plate once a car hits 30.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Conservatives Know How to Have Fun

Hi All!

I am excerpting a piece in today's WSJ by Stephen Moore:

"Echoing H.L. Mencken, humorist P.J. O'Rourke once quipped that conservatives are a group of stiff-collared puritans with a "haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be having fun." He should have joined me at the recent fifth annual Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms summer gala hosted by a right-leaning Colorado think tank, the Independence Institute, at a gun club in Kiowa, Colo.

This year's theme was "Stop the Growth of the Nanny State"--but it might as well have been "Live Free or Die Hard." Every activity seemed designed to annoy Hillary Clinton. There was a whole lot of drinking, smoking and shooting, but thankfully not in that order. During the morning hours, we carried nine-pound rifles through the woods, shooting pellets at clay pigeons flung into the air. By 10 a.m. the park was alive with the continuous claps of gunfire and hollering.

Many of the folks at the institute's, um, policy forum had come from all over the state to have a good time, sure, but they also had a deeper motivation: to stick their tongues out, figuratively, at the tyrant politicians in Washington and Denver who keep enacting rules about how they should run their lives. These people are just dog tired of having the government tell them what to do: Buckle your seat belt, wear your bike helmet, don't smoke, don't shoot, teach your 8-year-olds to wear condoms--and, most of all, stop complaining and pay your taxes. One participant was incensed that Denver now has a law requiring that every dog be neutered unless the owner gets a government permit allowing the animal to reproduce. On the left even sex is becoming taboo.

Then there are the more mundane rules. There was a discussion over lunch at my picnic table about how Congress is regulating nearly every basic household appliance--refrigerators, washers and dryers, toilets, hair dryers, shower heads, lawnmowers--to make sure that we are not, God forbid, wasting water or energy. A woman told me that she is stocking up on cartons of incandescent light bulbs, because soon it will be illegal to buy them. (The poor lady insisted on remaining anonymous so that the light-bulb police don't come to search her home.)

The buzzword on the left nowadays is "tolerance" for those with different lifestyles--like cross-dressers--but almost everything that these folks want to do, liberals won't tolerate. One smoker lamented that if "gays were discriminated against today the way smokers are, there would be an uproar." Gun owners have reason to be fearful too. In a recent blog interview on, John Edwards of North Carolina proclaimed that health care, child care, a livable wage and a clean environment are "rights," but owning a gun is a "privilege." The men and women who gathered in Kiowa would like to send him a copy of the Constitution.

I'm not a smoker or a gun owner, and not much of a drinker, other than at Margarita parties. But, as Mae West once cracked, "Sometimes I don't drink so the next day I can remember having fun." The gathering in Kiowa was pure joy--and I suspect that if liberals would loosen their puritan collars and start showing real tolerance of conservative "alternative lifestyles," they'd be having more fun too."

Mr. Moore is a member of The Wall Street Journal's editorial board.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

A Worse Than Average Day

Hi All!

I don't mean to make this another "The world is a dog and Wog is a hydrant" story, but Godfrey Daniels, this day has been a right sledgehammer.

I may flesh this out later because I am blocking out quite a few incidents.

For now, "in the mood" so it seems, I will recount just a few slings and arrows.

Everyone has days where nothing goes right, so I don't pretend to feel special.

An unexpected tuition balance of about $3000 was brought to my attention by a student who doesn't read his UofM email. Pay up by 8/1 or fall registration is canceled. Worse, the bill includes $367 of "Student Medical Service Fee" which is in error, as the student is covered by the family's insurance. In any case, we live so much hand to mouth that even $2633 kills.

The latest unexpected and un-budgeted and mechanic screw job needed to be picked up from a shop many miles distant. I was able to prevail upon an available offspring to drive me out there to pick it up. I had already bent over and taken it in the checking account yesterday so we just needed to get it.

I forgot the keys.

Ho hum.

Another offspring made off with mom's car, the only air-conditioned vehicle in the fleet, to go to work.

Mom and aforementioned available offspring had to drive to the work site to swap cars with my pride and joy -- the primo, darned near collectible one. The thought of it sitting all day in Rosedale's parking lot added to my already spiking anxiety and frustration.

But mom needed her cool car to ferry the third offspring to tennis lessons and friends houses and grocery shopping and the stuff moms do in their ubiquitous late model generic white GM sedans with a cruising temp of 60 degrees or less on full A/C, cocooned with all windows shut tight and KS95 spewing out boring crap MOR mom music.

I retreated to my furnace room retreat and tried to compose myself. The PC had become almost completely buried in stacks of urgent papers and such, so I dug into the pile, determined to pay some bills and settle some disputes and recycle some paper.

As modern suburbanites, we of course have the much vaunted "Central Air". There is a pump attached to the furnace that expels the many gallons of condensate that accumulate during hot steamy days like today.

The water is forced overhead through a copper pipe and travels the length of the basement along the ceiling to the laundry room where the drain is located.

I had simmered to a slow boil as I distracted myself shuffling through the "Pile of Great Urgency" when the pump kicked in.

A pinhole leak in the copper tube right over my head let out a fine stream of condensate on me and my computer and my work.

At this point, I started laughing hysterically.

The absurdity of my life in general and today in particular was embraced and accepted.

I calmly waited for the pump to stop, dried off the pipe and wrapped the afflicted area with a few yards of duct tape, which helpfully was hanging from the pegboard behind the desk.

A minor but important victory.

With uplifted spirits, I paid some bills, cursed out a few customer service reps and wrote a few nasty letters to unfair creditors.

Things were turning around.

At noon, I had my first meal of the day, some old chicken soup I made a week ago that no one else would touch, and a half bologna sandwich.

Thus sated and feeling spent, I succumbed to the temptation of attempting to pull off a "power nap" which always ends up in my awaking after supper.

I changed into a fresh pair of shorts and a clean shirt and collapsed on my back into the welcoming queen bed, folded my hands over my huge, gelatinous gut and started to blank out.

But I couldn't.

Whether is was the pissed-offedness of the bad stuff or the encouragement of the small achievements, my endorphins kicked in and I launched my considerable frame from the demon temptress queen.

When I need to attack a hopeless mess, I needn't go far in my house. I chose to take on the garage -- why chisel away at something in the nice air conditioned domicile when hot, sweaty work with lots of moving heavy boxes and stuff around was beckoning my growing insanity.

I got a bit dizzy and remembered that I had forgotten to take my morning meds which prevent my poor brain from going all encephalitic from the ammonia buildup that my liver can't filter out anymore. My doc once warned me that once I realized I was getting light headed and confused, I could be minutes from a coma.

A couple of pills and a big swig of Laculose got me back to reality and I went after the mess in the garage with a determined, yet controlled vengeance.

Then it got really dark all of a sudden and rained like hell. The car windows and sunroof were open, so I got an my second shower of the day, but this one was much worse than getting peed on by a pinhole leak in a copper pipe.

It should air out in a week or two.

Last week I brought my '72 Bug home from it's pole barn home at the lake for it's summer exercise.

I had accomplished what for me is a lot so I thought I'd reward myself with a short Beetle ride to HarMar Mall for a game or two of trivia and some fitty-cent chicken legs at Buffalo Wild Wings.

The storm had abated, but I encountered some serious puddles on the half-mile trip. When I pulled into the shopping mall from busy County Road B, I was confronted with the sight of some poor sucker who thought his fancy faux-Mercedes Kia could get through a deep river, like the horses in the old westerns who forded streams.

Those of us old enough to remember will know that VW Beetles float. Too bad Ted Kennedy wasn't taking Mary Jo home in one of them, but I digress.

Since the entrance was blocked by a drowned Korean jalopy, I was force to back out onto a very very very busy street.

Everyone stopped for me and let me out. The Beetle Cuteness Factor worked it's magic.

Found another way into the lot and played a couple or rounds and chatted up my favorite waitress and headed blissfully home.

Remember that car that needed picking up but I forgot the keys?

Well the urchin who had my prize Scorpio was done with work so I prevailed upon him to drive me out, keys in hand, to pick up the other Scorpio.

Unfortunately, he had left the lights on and killed the battery. I calmly planned to jump start it with the mom's car.

Now where the hell or those jumper cables?

At this point, I am so beyond feeling that I simply drove to where he was, picked him up and took him to get the car. My PP could be jumped later or perhaps the battery would recover after a time.

As long as I was out in Vadnais Heights, a visit to my favorite trivia venue was in order. A cranberry juice and a HamDog (a specialty of this place combing a dog wrapped in a burger -- it is better than it sounds) and a couple of weakly played rounds and some depressing Twins-Tigers watching, and I was ready to head home.

I got it in my mind that I REALLY had to hook up the old turntable to my modern media center and play "It's Only Rock and Roll." It became an obsession. I couldn't wait to get home.

Then I got home and the PP car is still dead and there isn't any shelf space for the turntable and there is a dry furnace room with a computer and some stash in the drawer and so I started writing this.

And now I am stopping.


Monday, July 16, 2007

Hanging Out With the MOB

Hi All!

Shy guy that I am, I managed to screw up the courage to head to Keegans Irish Pub's outdoor patio last Saturday to stick my nose into an informal gathering of Minnesota bloggers great and small.

I got there earlyish and camped on a stool with a great vantage point for enjoying the show.

The primo location and my ample heft figured to exert some gravity on the assembled worthies, and indeed I met a few really great people. I am not gonna risk leaving anyone out by naming names but Speed Gibson bought me a libation -- and THAT's something a guy like me remembers!

The power tables were toward the middle where many local and national blogging celebs could be found smoking expensive cigars and radiating brain waves that almost hurt my own head!

I won't expound much more except to say that it was a great evening and it was nice to see and perhaps be seen and converse with the variegated members of the loosely organized, but very vital Minnesota Organization of Bloggers (the MOB).

Others have documented the event more thoroughly in words and pictures. Rather than do a bunch of links, one who might want to learn more could do no better than starting with Mitch Berg's "Shot in the Dark"

A nice photo montage gives a great overview of the event.


Saturday, July 14, 2007

Queen, Hunter, Ronson, Bowie On One Stage?

Hi All

It's been a remarkably uninspiring, disheartening week. So I spent an afternoon seeking solace on You Tube and found this neat video from the Freddy Mercury Tribute.

Several of my "Rock Gods" on one stage -- oh. and Joe Elliot from Def Lepard is there singing backup too.

A damned good performance of a damned fine tune. It you have high speed and 5 minutes to spare, it's kind of neat, even if you aren't a fan.

If you don't know, you can press the pause icon "II" to give the videe awhile to load up, else it is choppy and icky.



Friday, July 13, 2007

Last Prince Post for Awhile

Hi All!

I heard "Let's Go Crazy" on the Muzak at the store today. Ain't no comparison to seeing it live. Music still rings in my ears 6 days after.

A friend with primo seats got a snapshot with his camera as Prince walked out to one of the little platforms on either end of the stage.

It is published here. Hope I don't hear from the lawyers.



Sunday, July 08, 2007

Greatest Concert Ever on 7/7/07

Hi All!

I ain't talk'n about that joke called "Live Earth."

The alivest part of the earth was Minneapolis yesterday.

The little one and I arrived downtown at about 7:45 for the 8:30 show at Target Center.

We walked up to the doors and were told that we couldn't come in just yet. For the next hour an more, thousands lined up in the 95 degree heat and waited.

Not for me!

We went to Gluek's and enjoyed cold beverages, being mindful not to consume too much liquid as it would be no fun to have to "go" in the middle of the show -- especially up in the nose bleed section were our $80 tickets put us.

Went back outside. Bigger lines, limos, sirens and I even ran into Sid Hartman on Hennepin -- even HE couldn't get in early, maybe, else he was waiting to be shown to Glen Taylor's luxury suite. I greeted him and he grinned a bit and quickly turned away with quick "Thanks." I think I frightened him with my long hair and beard and large frame.

We next went to Butler square and sat in Champps for awhile and then on a bench in the lobby.

The doors finally opened at about 9:00 (concert scheduled for 8:30.

We out the window in air conditioned comfort and watched the endless line of mostly middle-aged white folk slowly march toward the doors.

When the lines were gone, we crossed the street and walked right in.

Thankfully, the A/C in the Target Center was amazing. I'll bet those Live Earth people would have a cow thinking of all the energy it took to keep 15,000 bodies cool!

We scaled up the side of the mountain to our near-the-ceiling seats.

It is SO steep and SO many steps, you can imagine how I huffed and puffed.

To worsen matters, we picked the wrong side of the row and had to try to maneuver the six inches of open space between the obviously put-upon fans that had to make way for my round frame. I had a slight dizzy spell and so damned near toppled into a fatal freefall but caught myself on the next row of seats. Our friends did nothing to help me get back up and into my seat.

After all the aggravation, we settled in and waited. The show started at 10:10, only 100 minutes late.

About thirty seconds into the show, ALL was forgiven and then some. Holy Shit!

I'll leave it to others to review in detail. All I can say that no superlative is adequate to describe the 2 hour show.

We waited for the crowd to disburse and called the eldest son for the ride home. No problems.

On the way out we each got a decent size bottle of Prince's new fragrance, "3121"

I doubt I will use my bottle. Made a nice gift for the wife, and the little one already reeks of it.

What a strange little man. What an incredible entertainer!


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Thursday, July 05, 2007

A Princess Finds a Prince

Hi all!

A child known to me is about to turn 15 and is a rabid fan of a crusty old fossil of a locally born and bred pop star who is damned near as old as me. I have been a rabid fan as well -- since 7 years before she was born.

I keep deceiving myself with the old saw, "You're only as young as you feel."

Well, she got an envelope with a touching fatherly letter and a gift certificate to Davannis Pizza and Hoagies.

Oh, and a couple of ducats for her and me to see.... PRINCE!

I kept the secret for a month -- got the tickets pre-sale via a little known(?) internet site that charges 4.95 for a password that you can use with Ticket Bastard to access a certain section of seats. The password cracked me up. Get this. "PURPLE". Gosh how imaginative!

About 2 honey bees later the precious Target Center Nosebleed Section tickets arrived and since I was a fool and told my wife, we started having conversations about when to present them and how.

We are both the worst secret keepers in the world.

She really wanted to do it a couple of days ago, but I held off until this morning after I had spent an hour on the tennis court coaching her (I used to be quite good at the sport a long long time ago when there was still plenty of tread on the tire).

Venus and Serena have nothing to fear, but my little Chrissie Evert has a decent serve and a respectable two-hand backhand. The forehand is best left unmentioned. Two out of three ain't bad.

The timing was great. Now she has almost three full days to tell all of her friends and to perhaps lose some sleep.

There is no greater joy for a parent than getting that perfectly honest and emotional reaction to a gift given to a deserving child.

My youngest is a Princess, Prince Rogers Nelson is Prince, Wog is King!

At least until Sunday morning with the music still ringing in our ears and dirty dishes in the sink.


Wednesday, July 04, 2007

A Happy Fourth

Hi All!

What better place to enjoy this holiday with people who know what it's all about?

Spent the evening at the Legion.

There is so much I want to write about -- book length.

But I caught myself navel gazing as I prepared to spew forth and wisely, I think, will tell the tales on further reflection.