Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Never Trust a Buck

There are terrible people out there in the world. Usually when you think about who classifies as a terrible person, you think of truly evil people like Saddam or O.J. Simpson or Bin Laden. It turns out that there are truly evil people all around us and it's taken me 23 years and the death of my great grandmother to find this out. In fact, the evil people I talk of are even related to me. It's unfortunate, but it has taught me that you can't always trust people. I always like to give people the benefit of the doubt, but because of these evil people, I am now a little less open to doing that, which is sad, but after dealing with these people I can't help but feel this way.

As many of you know, my great grandmother passed away about a month ago. It was hard for me since I have a hard time dealing with death in general and with it also being a family member. I was finally getting over it, but then came the preparations for the auction of her estate. Harlan Buck was assigned to handle the process. It should be pointed out that his wife, Joann, was the daughter of my great grandmother and the sister of my grandma Meyer.

It was thought that Harlan would be impartial and treat everyone fairly. He claimed that everything would be handled consistently to keep from having the family members fight. He completely and totally lied. This waste of life used his position to screw our side of the family and benefit his. Apparently he doesn't possess a heart or a conscience (and neither does Joann). Let's examine exactly what he did to bring me to this conclusion. It's an interesting tale.

My great grandmother had stored away some comic books from when my grandma was little in her upstairs. When I'd go visit her, especially when I was younger, she would tell me about them and I could never wait to read them. The thing was, she had them packed away in a box somewhere upstairs and because she was not in the best of health, it was extremely hard for her to get to them. Often my mom would tell me to play with some toys or do something else instead of bothering great grandma Ziemer about the comics. That was often enough to get me to forget about them for the time being.

Just because I would forget about them in the short term I would often think about them after we left and every time we came over. She would always tell me that I'd get to see them someday and, in her later days, told me and grandma that when she was gone she'd like for me to finally have them. I had so many memories attached to those comics even though I had never seen them. When she finally passed away, I clung to those memories (and a blanket that she had crocheted for me) for comfort.

Now comes the time to divide up her belongings and prepare the auction. Harlan deems it necessary to put everything on the auction to avoid fighting between the family members over who might have received more valuable items than the other. If someone wanted something of great grandma's, they would have to buy it. That seemed somewhat extreme, but at least it was a fair plan... in theory. The execution left a lot to be desired.

I was saddened that I would have to buy something that my great grandma actually wanted me to have, but I really didn't have much of a choice. I was prepared to throw down a chunk of cash to get them because they were how I wanted to remember her. A few days before the auction my mother told me that Harlan and Joann had sold a chunk of the comics to one of their friends. At this, I became furious. I was also told that they were sold for $2 each. Now I was even more angry. These were golden age comics from the 1940's and 1950's. Two dollars each was an unbelievably cheap price to sell them for.

What made matters even worse is that there were three types of comics that great grandma had--romance, western, and superhero. It turns out that the buyer took all of the superhero ones because he told Harlan they weren't valuable. It might have also helped that the buyer was one of Harlan's friends. Either way, he got the most valuable comics for dirt cheap and the family wasn't even given a chance to buy them. I was heartbroken.

I later called up Joann to figure out why this was done. I really wanted to find out why this happened. Why did they break the rules that Harlan had set up for dealing with great grandma's possessions? What could have driven them to do this? Upon calling Joann told me that she didn't think I wanted them. What I actually told her and my grandma is that the ones without the covers and the ones that were excessively beat up weren't really worth much. Apparently, to her ears, that sounded like, "Rick doesn't want these so I should sell them to my friends." Which, of course, she did, being the dirty, back-stabbing bitch that she is.

I explained myself to her and how my statement in no way told her to sell them before the auction, but she refused to talk to me like a human being. She spoke condescendingly to me telling me that I was simply causing her trouble and she didn't want to deal with it. Apparently my emotional stress meant nothing to her. She told me she didn't want to talk about it on the phone so I agreed that we could then talk about it in the morning before the auction. I was trying to be polite to accommodate her, but she adamantly told me she would NOT deal with this at all. That's so nice of her to care, isn't it?

I was not about to let this drop because I was being treated completely unfairly and some of my memories were just sold away to some dealer who, by the way, has already sold most of the comics for a pretty hefty profit. In the morning I decided I'd try to talk to Joann and Harlan about it and maybe see if I could get the comics that were left at the same price. It seems like that would only be fair, right? If one person could buy them before the auction for $2 a piece, why couldn't I as well? That would seem logical...

...Unless you were a money whore like Harlan. Joann avoided me like the plague that morning and I wasn't going to work overly hard to talk to her since she didn't want to speak with me. Instead I went to Harlan. He was the one in charge after all, so he should be able to rectify this. Upon asking why he sold them, his reply was, "I thought it was a good deal." A good deal? A good deal for who? Not for you, you dumb old prick. Your buyer (and friend) got the deal. If all you cared about was the money, you sure didn't get much and, by extension, neither did great grandma's heirs.

I then propositioned Harlan to buy the remainder comics for the same price he sold the others at. He said absolutely not. The superhero books he sold, he was told by the buyer, weren't worth any real money and $2 was a good price. Of course the buyer is going to tell you they aren't worth much!! I asked why I couldn't buy them for $2 each and he said because the westerns and romance comics were worth more. I asked what superhero comics he sold then, since they weren't worth much money.

His response: "Umm... some Superman and other superheroes like that."
My response: "Did you know that Superman comics from the 40's and 50's are probably some of the most valuable of the entire lot that great grandma had?"
His response: "Oh wait, come to think of it maybe there weren't any Superman comics."
My inner monologue: "BULLSHIT!"

He then said $5 was his final offer and he could do this because he was responsible for the estate and what he said goes. After that he turned his back to me and wouldn't allow me to say another word. I then went to look at the remainder of the comics to possibly pick some out, still being pissed at how I was being treated. While I was looking through them, Harlan came over to me and told me now to wait until the auction. His justification: You'll probably get the whole lot for cheap--less than $5 a piece. What he was really thinking: "Shit, he's going to buy them for this price. I must not have asked enough."

Flash forward to the actual auction. They started auctioning off the comics... individually instead of by lot. I thought they might go for maybe $5-$10 a piece because most were only in Good or Good+ condition at best, but the first round the high bid was $37.50 per issue. Well damn, it looked like I wasn't going to get any. How could I pay that much money for them? I did eventually get a few and a box of comics where most of them were missing the covers, but it cost me a good chunk of cash to do it.

What made it even worse is that Harlan stared me down as the bidding was taking place. I could tell he was gloating over how managed to screw me over. That dirty old fuck managed to desecrate some of my fondest memories of my great grandmother. Instead of the comics being given to me like great grandma wanted, a couple of comic dealers ended up with them and already a bunch have been resold.

I know this has been a lot to read and is a lot more than I usually post, but I wanted to get the full story out. In one fell swoop, Harlan and Joann Buck, from Hayfield, MN (in case anyone knows them and wants to tell them what terrible people they are), managed to take some of the fondest memories of my great grandmother and turn them into grotesque monstrosities of hate--a hate I possess for Joann and Harlan. A hate that I won't let go. They destroyed something close to my heart and it's brought me more than enough tears. Sure, someone may say that it's only comics books, but that's not all it is, it's a memento of my passed on relative. They're not comics so much as they are pieces of someone with which I can keep from forgetting her.

Along with my heartbreak comes a good share of hate. This is an emotion that I rarely have. Sure, people piss me off at times, but it would take a lot to get me to hate someone. The way Joann and Harlan treated me, though, easily aroused my hate. I passionately hate them through and through. If I were ever to wish a terrible and painful calamity upon anyone, it would be them. I wish them the absolute worst in life. They're not good enough for the air they breath.

In the end, the worst part of this whole situation is it can't be undone. The comics are gone, probably resold already (some for sure already are). With each one goes a small piece of my great grandma and it hurts.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Poems About Speeding

Back after my sophomore year of college, I spent a lot of time in "the group", which consisted of myself, Chris Swanson, Sarah Taylor, and Caleb Buecksler. We did just about everything together during that summer, culminating in a crazy road trip we all took out to California. That summer was probably the most enjoyable summer I can remember. I could easily write a book on some of the crazy things we did during that summer, but the sad truth is I'm just too lazy to do it.

Anyhow, I found out recently that Sarah is spending the summer in Florida. While reading some of the email updates she sends out I got to thinking about that summer from so long ago, and about one event in particular. During that school year, Sarah had received a speeding ticket. Two of our high school teachers (who were married to each other), the Klagges, continually gave her crap about it. Over and over again, the Klagges would tease her about her mishap and continually recite to her that she needed to be a little more safe when driving. The Klagges would never drive so recklessly, especially since they had two young children. That's what they said, but then one day while reading the sheriff's report in the Hayfield paper it was revealed that Jen Klagge had received a speeding ticket last month.

Upon finding this out, I immediately informed Sarah and we knew that we had to find some way to stick it to Jen, especially since she tried to keep it secret from us (thank goodness for Sheriff reports). We had a few planning sessions to figure out what to do, but we just couldn't think of anything truly crazy to do. Instead, we finally decided to write her a poem and frame it. However, we also decided not to tell her it was from us or give it to her in person. We wanted her to have to guess who it was.

What's really amazing about the whole story isn't that we delivered it in secret one night, or that Chris and I double crossed Sarah with the help of the Klagges after the delivery of the poem, or that Jen knew it was from Sarah & me right away, or that we conned Sarah into believing that the Klagges *knew* it was from Chris and not us, or any of the other details, but instead it was the huge space of time it took us to come up with a 12 line or so poem.

We spent an entire night sitting around, brainstorming, and writing (and watching the Princess Bride). When the poem was finally finished and placed in its frame, I felt like we had really accomplished something. I also felt that we had really bonded as friends that night. We had been friends for a few years, but I had never felt like we were truly close friends, but over the course of this summer, and especially during that night of poetry writing, I finally felt like we had connected more so than in the past.

Thinking about this makes me miss her, and the rest of "the group", so much. I can remember having moments such as this with each member, and together as a group as well. I know that there will never be a summer that goes by that I won't remember the crazy things we did together as "the group" during our summer breaks away from school. Some things you simply can't forget.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Crossgen's Demise

I'm probably the thousandth person to talk about this, but I find it somewhat sad. Crossgen comics is no longer with us. They've filed for bankruptcy and it looks like the amount of debt they have will make it impossible for them to come out of this. The saddest part about this deal is that I was just starting to finally get into Crossgen's comics.

I have runs of Negation, The First, The Path, and Crux, but I haven't started reading any of them because I've wanted to complete my runs first. I hate reading a series and then getting to a point where you're missing an issue and then you have to go track it down to continue the story. I'd much rather hold off on reading the series until I have the whole thing. Lately, though, I've started picking up Negation War in my previews orders. It was looking to be a good mini, and I was anxiously looking forward to reading it, but now it looks as if it won't even be completed. I'm always so frustrated when series are never completed. I need closure for my stories!

The only bright spot to this whole situation is that the prices for back issues of Crossgen titles might drop. As it is, most of the Crossgen titles are hard to find, and hard to find at cover price or less when they are available. For me I'd love to see the values drop, but for all of the other people who have been collecting these titles for their perceived future value it would be a big blow... but that wouldn't be all bad since I really dislike people who buy comics only to try to make a buck in the future. Buy comics to read and enjoy! That's the only reason I do. I suppose that's also the reason that most of my comics aren't worth a whole lot :-)

Ok, well, I'm off to a Rochester Honkers baseball game.

Monday, June 21, 2004

An Aura of Emptiness

I'm suddenly struck with the realization that summer is quickly flying by. With my mind being so preoccupied with my medical tests, I've really forgotten to try to enjoy the summer. Sure, the weather hasn't exactly been too great with it raining almost every other day, but I think back to many other years and usually by this time I've already done a lot of fun stuff that has made use of the nice weather that comes with summer.

Every summer my place has been known for two main things--bon fires and movie nights. The group of friends that I usually hang out with during the summer all live in somewhat disparate areas. Smack dab in the center of where everyone lives is my place, which makes it a nice hub to use for get-togethers. This summer, however, I have yet to have one single gathering.

I was trying to figure out why I haven't had one yet, and as much as I want to blame it solely on my medical tests and all that has come with that, I also realize that a big part of it is that most of the people that are usually around in the summer either aren't around or haven't made contact with me to let me know they are around. There's always been a core group of me, Caleb, Chris, Paul, and Sarah. Out of those four people, I've only heard from one--Caleb. Sarah, I recently found out, is spending the summer in Florida. As for Chris and Paul, I'm not sure where they are or what they are up to.

I really only noticed how much I missed having our gatherings around the fire, talking about politics, philosophy, religion, and other topics on Friday when my dad, Kristin, and myself went out to have a fire. It was a lot of fun, as well as very relaxing, to just have us out there around the fire, but it really made me aware that the core group of people I've hung out with during the summers over the last 5 years or so is starting to splinter. Deep down, I think I knew it would eventually happen, but that doesn't change the fact that I don't want it to.

Besides the many bon fires that I'd have out here, I'd also host movie nights, as I mentioned before. This would usually consist of the same group of people getting together and watching a movie instead of burning logs in a fire pit. We watched a lot of really great movies, but at times we'd force ourselves to watch some truly horrendous crap. I've actually been looking forward to hosting some movie nights this summer since I have my new tv--the 56" widescreen HDTV I picked up a few months ago. I'm still in the process of paying it off, but I'm sure as heck enjoying watching movies and playing Xbox on it.

Oh, and a quick tangent, I recently played all the way through James Bond: Agent Under Fire and found it a lot of fun. I liked the fact that it wasn't strictly a first person shooter. The rail shooter levels, as well as the driving levels, kept the game from getting old. In fact, I think the driving levels were some of my favorites of the game. I also have Nightfire to play, but before that I'm going to give Breakdown a try. I heard the story is really good for a video game.

Yeah, so back to what I was talking about before. I guess I was just trying to say that I miss the camaraderie of the past summers. If Kristin wasn't here this summer, and if not for Caleb being around, I would be staring down a really boring rest of the summer (especially with improv not happening this summer).

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Nothing Horribly Wrong... Other than the Usual

The results are in. They all came back negative. Whew. Talk about a relief. So it's pretty much a lock that what I'm getting is some form of migraines. What type, I won't know for a little bit yet. I have an appointment with the clinic's neurologist for the 21st...... of July. Yes, that is over a month away. Un-frickin-believable. That is the soonest they can get me in!

I went from being relieved to horribly pissed in a matter of minutes this morning. So what do I do in the meantime? Well, I'm probably going to talk to my regular doctor and just ask for some temporary, general migraine medicine to take until I can get in and have the specifics of my migraines examined. Hopefully I won't have any major migraines like I did over the last two weeks.

I am interested, and extremely happy, to start exercising again. I'll just have to overdose on Exedrin before I do it, though, so that I can actually finish a workout without keeling over and feeling like my head will explode. I'm still trying to figure out what changed in my lifestyle/body that made it so that I went from exercising vigorously every day to not being able to exercise at all without extreme pain.

Did I suddenly experience more stress? No, not really. I didn't change my diet at all. My sleep patterns were pretty much unchanged. I hadn't started doing anything new. I stopped my caffeine intake... but only after my migraines had already started. My lifting program was the same as it's been for the last few months. I wasn't attempting to run any further than I usually would. I wasn't having any other problems. I just don't know what could have brought about such a drastic change in such a short time. One day I was fine and the next I was debilitated in extreme pain.

Hopefully this hard to talk to neurologist can figure it out. He damn well better if I have to wait over a month to see him. Not only should he figure out the cause of my headaches, but he should instantaneously cure them with the wave of a magical wand... all while juggling flaming batons and balancing plates on his head. Really, if it's going to take me a month to see him, he better be one hell of a doctor. Either that or there better be a ton of people here in Rochester with some serious head problems.

In other news, I bought a tube of the most rancid candy known to man--Xtra Sour Goo Candy. They had it on clearance at Kwik Trip so I decided to take a chance, mainly because of the sketchy name and my stupidity. Upon tasting it, my mouth was sent reeling. Yes, it is sour. Yes, it is goo. Yes, it is candy. No, I would not recommend anyone in their right mind to buy it. Actually, on second thought, everyone should go buy a bottle and try it. See how much you can eat before you feel like vomiting or your teeth feel like falling out from sugar overdose.

In more news, I'm now in the process of migrating Kingland's website over from IIS and .asp pages to Tomcat and .jsp pages. Turns out that the 1.2 and 2.0 JSP standards have a lot of differences. I've got a book on the 2.0 standard and I ordered one on the 1.2 standard so I can get a feel for the differences. I'm going to try to do the site based on the 2.0 standard, but since the other coders here in the office code to the 1.2 spec, I might be on my own for figuring some stuff out. I'm really not looking forward to the database connectivity programming since I've have virtually no DB experience at all. I've played with some Access databases, but even I don't consider them true databases. It'll at least be a good learning experience for me. It does fall a little outside of my job description as a technical writer, but in all reality I'm also the web site designer/administrator so I suppose I am responsible for this stuff. At least I'll get to look at some books for a while instead of staring at my monitor(s) for 8-12 hours a day!

Wednesday, June 16, 2004


I really want to be fixed soon. Yesterday towards the end of work and through most of the evening, up until I went to bed, I had another migraine-ish headache. Since I haven't been diagnosed with migraines, I don't want to classify them as that exactly, but it is safe enough to say that it fit most of the symptoms of one. The throbbing pain behind my eyeball, the slight aches, and a little bit of nausea all made for a wonderful night. I tried to ignore it as much as I could, but there were times where it just really hurt and I couldn't hide it. Today I've felt somewhat achy in my shoulders and neck as well as weak. Why can't I just be normal like I was 3 weeks ago??? What has changed so much in that time? Ugghhh, I'm frustrated.

Anyhow, what did make my night better, besides Kristin being a wonderful girlfriend and pampering me, was the Pistons putting down the Lakers. Man, it felt so good to see the Lakers get put in their place. What was even more amazing was how crappy the Lakers played. After a good first quarter it looked like they just tossed in the towel and let the Pistons walk all over them. I'm really glad that the "powerhouse" that the Lakers supposedly put together this year couldn't pull off more than one weak victory against a very motivated Pistons team.

While watching some of the game, Kristin and I played a couple rounds of Simpsons Jeopardy. Of course, Kristin kicked my keister (how do you like that alliteration!). I expected it, though, since she's such a big fan of the show. We then watched some Smallville and did some reading and then I hit the sack since we worked for 11 hours yesterday and today we're working 11 and a half. Yeah, long days are sucky.

For reading I read The Unknown Soldier by Garth Ennis while Kristin read Kingdom Come. I've now read both and they are two of the best comic miniseries that I have read in a very long time. I would easily recommend both. Kingdom Come easily catapulted itself into my top five comic series of all time, probably number 2 right after Moonshadow. As for other reading, I've now started reading Kafka's Metamorphosis. I've only finished the first chapter, but it's looking to be a very interesting read.

Beyond that, my life has been pretty ho-hum with me not feeling so well and putting in extra long days at work. Kristin and I only had three hours last night between getting home from work and going to bed and I'm sure it'll be like that tonight too. It's not that I mind a whole lot, but it is a little sad to only have a few hours of the day to do anything. I guess this is what the real world is like, and I can only imagine it gets more hectic once kids enter the picture. I really, really want to have kids someday, but I kind of fear not having very much time to myself or very much time for just me & Kristin, or me & my friends, or me & family. It'll pretty much be me, Kristin, and a kid. Meh, I probably won't be having kids for a while yet, so I guess I shouldn't be worrying about it now.

What I do keep senselessly worrying about, though, is that my test results might point to something horrible like cancer. Cancer is such a terrible thing, and I've already mentioned that it took my grandpa and a close friend from me in a past post, but it's still heavily on my mind. The longer they keep me in suspense about what the results of my MRI are, the more and more paranoid I get. Can you imagine being told you have cancer? How do you react to having something like that dropped in your lap? I'm stressed out simply about the small, outside chance that it could be it. To have it actually confirmed would be devastating. I keep trying to stay as positive as I can, but it's really hard right now, especially stuck in limbo waiting for test results. I'll just keep praying for the best......

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

So What IS Wrong With Me?

The ultrasound and the MRI are done. Unfortunately, the results aren't in yet. Well, at least most of them aren't. After the ultrasound was done, the doctor was able to tell me that neither of my carotid arteries had any problems with them. That's good know because that was one of the life-threatening that could have been wrong. Now, for the rest of the MRI results, I'll have to wait until radiology looks over the data they gathered and returns it to my doctor.

Having an MRI really wasn't all that bad. Sitting still for a little under 45 minutes was somewhat boring, but it wasn't terrible. The only thing that was somewhat annoying was the racket that the MRI machine makes when it's running. They gave me headphones to listen to some music, which was cool. That way I wouldn't be completely bored while I was in there, but as soon as the machine started I couldn't even hear the headphones.

To also make my MRI a little more "fun", my doctor prescribed me a tranquilizer to take beforehand. I did and I waited and waited for it to do something. Nothing. Not a darn thing all day. The tranquilizer did absolutely nothing for me! I wonder if it was just a placebo that he gave me to ease my nerves? I'm pretty mad if it was because Kristin has to take a day off of work to drive me to and from the hospital because I was supposedly supposed to be tranquilized. Next time I should just go get blitzed before I go into the office. Who needs an expensive prescribed tranquilizer when you can just stop by the bar on your way in!

Sunday, June 13, 2004

I'll Find Out Soon

So tomorrow is the big day. They will supposedly find out what's wrong with me after my MRI and ultrasound. The anticipation is making me extremely anxious and nervous. I keep having worst case scenarios running through my head. What if it's cancer? There are more and more young people being affected with it each year. My grandfather died of it as well as one of my best high school friends. Coupled with my fear of death, finding out I had cancer might well make me go crazy.

I just can't keep from thinking about it all the time. I hope, and I try to reassure myself every time my mind does wander, that it's something simple and curable, but I can't help but think about "what if?". There're so many things I want to do with my life that the horrible thought of something serious being wrong frightens me to the core. I know I'm more than likely just paranoid, but who wouldn't be?

The doctor, after hearing my many different symptoms, wasn't exactly conclusive as to what it could be. It all started about two weeks ago when I started having some sharp shoulder and neck pains that lead to some killer headaches. These headaches would come on only when I would do something active. The doc then told me to quit being active, which I did. Then other things cropped up. I had a good string of days where nothing was wrong, but then I had a sore throat with a headache and vomiting. I'm chalking that up to possibly being sick with some type of flu because Kristin had some type of flu at the same time. The last symptoms have been the oddest. During a couple of days of work I started to get light-headed and a little dizzy. Accompanying that was also some pain & aching in my shoulder/neck. Stemming from that, over the last few days my left arm has been in a constant state of feeling like it just woke up from falling asleep, as well as feeling somewhat weak. I haven't lost any feeling in it or anything, but it's just been feeling odd like that.

I keep wondering if maybe my mind is making up these sensations to play with me and make me freak out, but then I also wonder if they are somehow signs of something more serious than just exertion migraines that the doctor thinks I might have. Maybe I do have some type of serrated artery. Maybe I have a pinched nerve or artery. Maybe I ripped a muscle. Maybe I'm just achy. Maybe it is cancer. Maybe something healed wrong. Maybe I'm just fine. I'll find out tomorrow, and as much as I'm looking forward to having this all figured out, I'm also scared that it could turn out that something awful might be wrong with me.

Heck, I've only really started my adult life. The adjustment to the "real world" is just starting to set in and Kristin is here for the summer to live with me. I've got getting married and having kids of my own to look forward to. I've got grandkids I want to get to know. I want to see how the world takes shape over the next 50 years. I want to overcome my fear of flying and go see the world. I want to get my master's degree. I want to get my own house to live in. I want to take vacations. I want to spend more time with my family. I want to grow religiously. I want to experience so much more of life. How can I not be at least a little scared that all of these ambitions may be taken away or reigned in in some way?

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Liberal, My Ass

Check out my Morality! 54% liberal, 46% conservative. That's actually amazing in my book because I've always viewed myself as a strong conservative, but according to that survey I'm more liberal than I thought. Who could have guessed? Maybe I really don't know myself as well as I thought I did, or maybe I didn't answer the questions extreme enough. Either way, though, it was interesting to see that the results of the survey turned out different than I view myself.

No doubt Kristin will get a kick out of this because we often have arguments where she'll argue the liberal viewpoint and I'll argue the conservative viewpoint. It's odd, really, that as a couple we don't argue over common topics. Usually when I see couples arguing it's because one isn't paying enough attention to the other or one is cheating on the other or one isn't pulling their weight in the relationship or other such matters. Kristin and I never really argue about that stuff. No, instead we save our knock-down, drag-out arguments for sociopolitical battles and philosophical wars.

Instead of arguing about how I might not have appreciated a present she got me or something like that, we'll dive right into a heated debate about the differing necessary conditions for the proliferation of religion. I see the only reason for religion is our uncertainty about what happens after death. Kristin would argue that there are other necessary conditions that would cause the development of religion even if there was no worry about death. At this point the gloves come off and we get right into it.

There are some times where we'll get really involved and get mad at each other (usually because I'll be arguing more to simply disprove a point, or neither of us will concede to compromise), but most of the time we don't take it personally. We're just expressing our viewpoints. Besides, I'd rather argue about big topics like religion and such rather than petty little things.

Ok, well I'm getting a little anxious about having my MRI and ultrasound in less than 48 hours, and Kristin is up in St. Cloud at the moment at a bridal shower. In the last week, I've actually managed to watch three really good movies, at least in my opinion. If you get the chance, go check out Chronicles of Riddick in the theaters, but probably only if you are an action or sci-fi fan. If that doesn't do you, go out and rent Monster or Spirited Away. They are two of the best movies I've seen this year. Monster is a dark, ugly, twisted love story while Spirited Away is a oddly beautiful story of a fantasy world.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Doing Ok for the Most Part

First I need to make a quick correction about my last post. In it I said that I may possibly have a carotid artery. Well, I definitely do simply because that's the name of an artery in my neck. What I may possibly have wrong with it is that it may be serrated. In all of the doctor-speak my physician was spouting I didn't catch everything. After a little looking on the internet and remembering exactly what he told me I found out that carotid was the name of the artery and having it serrated is what might be wrong. Either way, I still hope I don't have anything wrong.

Since I last posted I haven't had another headache... until today, but I think that might be because I'm getting sick. Anyhow, I've been quite good, but then again I also have done close to nothing in the exercise category. I moved some branches around in our yard and moved some logs yesterday, but that's about it for the extent of my physical exertion. I really hope that on Monday I get cleared and can start working out again. I feel unbelievably fat and I can't stand just sitting around. As much fun as doing a bunch of reading, cleaning my room, watching tv & movies, and playing video games is, I need to get out and doing something physical.

I've already lost a bunch of muscle definition and I'm putting on weight as a result of my lack of physical activity in the last week (and forthcoming week as well). I've always been a little quasi-obsessive about my weight and by my sitting around I've become even more self conscious. I've pretty much resigned myself to the fact that I won't be able to do anything outside with my shirt off without feeling horribly self conscious for quite a while. My goal, if cleared, will be to get back into the shape I was in before this fiasco by the end of July. It'll probably mean that I'll have to get plenty of exercise every day and I hope that I'll be able to fit it in around many of the other things I'm always doing.

On a much happier note... well, somewhat sad I guess, but anyways... we have a little kitten in the house now that we are taking care of. Over the weekend my mom heard the dog barking very excitedly at something by one of our sheds. As she went out, she found Karma, our dog, to have a kitten in her mouth.

Anyhow, this time my mom managed to get to the animal before it was too injured. From what we could tell, the kitten was in pretty good shape except it was covered in slobber and was walking pretty gingerly on its back legs. Oh, just for clarity's sake, this kitten is a he and we named it Stitch, after the character in the Disney movie Lilo & Stitch.

After bringing the kitten in, we all took our turns nursing him back to health. He did a lot of sleeping for the first day, but the next day he started drinking milk from an eyedropper and eating some mushy food. Now, as of today, he's running around, playing with toys, chasing our feet, and getting around just like a normal little kitten. Unfortunately, it also cries like your typical kitten. I'll take a live, crying kitten any day to the alternative (a dead kitten). Now I just have to work on my parents to let us keep it as a house cat. I know we already have two, but they could always use some company, right?

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Potentially Lethal

I went in to the doctor this morning to have my neck/shoulder/head checked out so that I could hopefully find out what's wrong with me. I was a little leery of having a decent diagnosis since the doctor that I was assigned to was a family practitioner, but when I was in his office waiting for him to come in I noticed that he also was certified in sports medicine. This relieved me a little because I injured myself while I was lifting and it was affecting me while I was active.

He asked me a lot of questions and poked & prodded me a lot. Probably checking to see if it was a pulled muscle or something. I don't really know since I'm not a doctor myself. After I told him that the pain I had came on after I became active and not from using my shoulder, he asked me some more questions about my pain and where it was at. Since I would get a throbbing shoulder/neck pain that would then cause a headache he believed it was one of two things.

The first, which he is pretty sure it is, would be that I have exertion migraines. These migraines come on when I do active work. The increased blood flow causes swelling and expanding in the area I pointed out, which causes pain. To counter this I would have to take a prescribed drug to nullify the pain before I exercised. This wouldn't be too bad. I could live with it.

The other thing it could be is a little more scary. It could be a serrated carotid artery. Apparently there is a 10% chance that it could be this. What this means is that I have build up on my artery in my neck and it has come loose, flapping inside of it. One of three things could happen if it is this. The piece of build up comes off and is reconstituted into my bloodstream and I'm basically cured. If that doesn't happen, it could come off and partially close off my artery causing a stroke. If that doesn't happen, it will then come off and completely close off my artery causing instant death by brain aneurism. That's some scary stuff to think about.

The doctor didn't think that I had a serrated carotid artery because I am in good shape and have a normal blood pressure. Also my headaches haven't been causing any problems with my vision, which would show a partial closing of the artery. The fact that I've also had some slight nausea associated with my headaches leads him to believe it is more than likely just migraines. Just to be safe, however, I am scheduled for an MRI and and ultrasound for Monday, June 14th.

Until my MRI the doctor said just to be safe that I should not do anything active at all. If it is a carotid artery then the increased blood flow from exercising might raise the risk of it coming loose and clogging my artery. So for the next 10 days, I have been ordered not to do anything active. I'm going to go nuts! I haven't been able to do anything active for the last week and I feel so fat and gross because of it and now I won't be able to do anything for another 10 days. Well, I foresee a lot of tv, reading, and video games in my future. I'll just have to adjust my diet accordingly so that I eat less to avoid excess weight gain.

I also sense a lot of anxiety over the next 10 days. Even though it's only a small chance (1 in 10) that I could have a life threatening ailment, I'm still worried. Right now I feel fine, but I have 10 days to worry about what could potentially be wrong with me. Anyone who's read this site for any period of time knows how much I fear death and just knowing that there's even a slight chance that I could potentially die is a little bit nerve wracking. If anything this will help me to truly enjoy every moment of the day over the next couple of weeks.

Some funny things I've thought of, however, are some of the odd ways I could die via a serrated carotid artery. What if I am really constipated one day and I grunt too hard and it causes me to die. Wouldn't that be the worst way to go? Sitting there on the toilet taking a dump... Or what about simply getting nervous about something? If I suddenly have a bunch of work dumped on me and as I stress out about it I keel over onto my laptop... Man, there's so many crappy ways to die.

My friend Neil Swanson called yesterday to talk to my mom about his wedding pictures and we talked about dying. He has made the decision that he wants to die in a grand way, something that "will make the front page of the paper" as he so eloquently put it. I think that's the way I'd want to go to--doing something grand, like saving a baby from a burning building or saving Kristin from terrorists or something like that. Who wants to die taking a dump or walking up some stairs or by just falling over? Not this guy. Let's just hope I don't have to worry about dying at all in the near future. I know that's what I'll be praying for.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

G.I.Joe vs. Bin Laden, Story at 5!

By taking some quiz online I found out that if I was an 80's toy, I'd be a Speak and Spell. A speak and spell, huh? I was kind of hoping that I would have been something a little bit cooler, but I suppose this is an appropriate toy, considering I was pretty dorky when I was little... and I suppose I still am. I never had a Speak and Spell, however, so I can't really relate to it at all.

In the 80's my main toys of choice were G.I.Joe and Transformers. I must have had a hundred G.I.Joe figures and a bunch of vehicles. When our basement was unfinished, I would set up gigantic battles between the Joes and Cobra. I always had to give Cobra an edge, though, since I had significantly less Cobra figures than Joes. Usually there would be a bunch of Joes working for Cobra and then as they were about to lay the killing blow, the Joes working for Cobra would turn on them and lead them to victory.

The whole Joe betrayal scenario played out way too many times, but I wasn't creative enough to figure out too many other ways to make the battles even. Maybe if Hasbro would have made more Cobra figures instead of churning out a bajillion new Joes, I could have had even teams. Of course Hasbro wouldn't want to promote terrorists by having a lot of Cobra figures or by making them cool (although I did think that Destro was by far the coolest character).

I kind of wonder how well the G.I.Joe cartoon would go over now in post 9/11 America. I saw that there is now a CGI G.I.Joe cartoon on Cartoon Network, but I have only caught a glimpse of it. I'd be interested to see more, but we don't have cable and my dad canceled the DSS subscription a while ago. I didn't think I'd miss having more than four channels available, but I kind of do. I miss not being able to watch ESPN, Cartoon Network, Sci-Fi, and Comedy Central. There wasn't really any other stations I watched, except for TNT when they'd have basketball on, but my basketball watching for the year is now done since, in the last two days, both the T-Wolves and the Pacers were eliminated. Let's just hope the Lakers don't win. I don't want the title held by a potential rapist.

Ok, just so you know, I've redid the structure of my site and some of the asp coding. It shouldn't be noticeable to you, but if a page doesn't work, or something's messed up, could you please let me know? Thanks. I was trying to set up a decent way of handling the massive amount of htm files that comprise my archived thoughts because the way I currently had them stored didn't sit so well with me. I've also been told that the message board I had up is being missed. It never got much use so that's why I took it down. If people think I should code a new one to put up, again, just let me know. Anyhow, I hope everything is working ok.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Throbbing, Pulsating, Yet Refreshingly Annoying

Continuing the trend I started last week, I'm going to attempt to post every work day. It's good for me to get into a habit or else I won't ever keep up. In the past whenever I let this site go for a little bit, my motivation for writing would wane and I'd often be inclined to simply ignore this site. I don't like being ignored, so I figure my site doesn't like it either... well, it wouldn't if it was a sentient creature, which it isn't... or so we think... hmm... sounds like a sweet movie idea... or maybe not... but if I did make a movie about my blog coming to life it couldn't be any worse than The Day After Tomorrow.

Yeah, saw it this weekend. Wasn't so good. For being a movie about the end of the world it sure was boring. All the good CGI scenes are over in the first hour and then the rest of the movie is like a really bad after school special. A kid's dad treks through the snow to find him because he promised him that he would come. Ugghh. The cheesy, clich├ęd lines were also tossed around in abundance. Everything about the plot of the second half of the movie was just melodramatic crap. So... it sucked. 'Nuff said.

Now onto other wonderful breaking news. Well, not breaking in the sense of new, but breaking in the sense of my shoulder and head not working properly. Last week while I was lifting I thought I pulled a muscle in my shoulder. While doing some curls, I had a shooting pain go through my shoulder and up into my head. It was one of those pulsating, throbbing pains. Imagine a really intense headache and then expand the pain to engulfing your shoulder as well. The pain faded and I figured that I just needed some time off for my shoulder to recuperate.

I was wrong. Turns out that any time I do anything physical, my shoulder and head start to throb. Maybe it's just that it was tender and needed some more time. I gave it time and Sunday night the pain came back with a vengeance and instead of fading like it usually did all last week, it just continued to throb, but mostly in my head, not my shoulder. All day yesterday and today I've had a pulsating pain in my shoulder and head. I don't know what it is and why it won't go away and why it gets worse whenever I do anything active, but I scheduled a doctor's appointment for Thursday morning to have it checked out. Hopefully a doctor can tell me what's up and fix me. It's getting real hard to not do anything active. I already feel like a huge, fat pig since I haven't done any real exercise in a week. Going from doing something active every day to nothing at all is quite the jarring experience for me. I hate it. The end.