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17th March 2010

6:59pm: Final Episode of LOST
I've been listening to a podcast, LOST Unlocked. They called for listeners to suggest the worst possible ending to the series. Here's my entry:

The episode opens with a close up of an eye. The eye opens slowly, rolls and darts side to side in sleepy confusion. The camera pulls back to reveal that it's Hurley's father. He's sprawled on a rumpled couch in a dingy, cluttered room. On the wall behind him is a black velvet painting of the Virgin Mary. The coffee table is scattered with paperback books, orange rind and a jar of peanut butter.

The room is lit with the flickering blue light of a TV that's playing loudly. Atop the TV is a toy airplane, a metronome, and a plaster bust of Anubis. Seated on the floor is young Walt, channel surfing. Clips of shows blink past: Gilligan's Island, Airport 77, the daily Powerball, a documentary about polar bears. Walt pauses a moment to watch a scene from Curb Your Enthusiasm, in which bald Larry David buys drugs from Hurley.

Hurley's dad scowls and his nostrils twitch as we see a wisp of black smoke curl up around him. There's a commotion as Tommy Chong bursts into the room, juggling a hot, smoking pan of burnt brownies. He's wearing a tie-dye T-shirt with a Dharma logo on it.

As Hurley's dad sits up, a large bong slips from his lap. "Where am I ?" he asks.

"Oh man," says Chong. "You were out so long I was afraid you were LOST!"

Episode title, "Up in Smoke - X"

13th March 2010

12:07am: Love Netflix!

P.S. If you think this looks delightfully silly, you should know that Wayward Cloud also features explicit sex; including watermelon fetishism and necrophilia. (!)

8th March 2010

10:00pm: Mad Scientist Brew - H. West Reanimator EPA
I goofed up this batch of beer. It got an infection that looked like a spiderweb on the surface. After researching infections, I racked out from under it and bottled it anyway. I only tasted the left over at the bottom of the bucket to discover that it was too sweet - it had not fermented. I almost poured it out, but decided to experiment - start over from scratch.

I opened all the bottles, brought it back up to 140+ degrees for about 20 minutes, put back into primary fermenter and started over with new yeast.

And the results?

TADA! A very good EPA.

Reanimator ESB

29th November 2009

10:00am: Love this!

20th November 2009

10:22pm: Thich Nhat Hanh Puppet Show at HOBT
Great night! Ate wonderfully spicy African food at Global Market, then ushered at HOBT for the show about Thich Nhat Hanh. Tomorrow, we're ushering for the kids' show, "On the Day You Were Born." Right now, I'm enjoying a big mug of Mexican hot cocoa. Mmmmmm!


8th November 2009

10:52pm: Nice weekend
Worked out annual council meeting, hanging out with the marrow donor and recipient and attending workshops on transplant science and survivorship.

Also attended a friend's birthday party, did a little yard work with a 10 and 11-year-old helper who we hired to rake. They were very cute and did a great job!

Started making a gallon batch of Grand Marnier from a kit. It starts with just sugar water, yeast and yeast nutrient. You make the alcohol first, then add the clarifiers and flavor.

Also started a 6-gallon kit of Gerwurztraminer.

Also moved my comic book collection out from under the eaves where they've been stored for the last 10 years. started sorting and rebagging. Falling in love with them all over again, marveling at all the distinct memories flooding back about where I was, who I was with, what was happening when I bought or read specific issues. It's like having a time machine.

Wanna guess (approximately) how many I have?

21st October 2009

9:57pm: Halloween approaches.

2nd October 2009

6:15pm: Revisiting the concepts of sin, forgiveness and redemption
This thing with Letterman and his "apology" or "admission" of his affairs - and all the other public figures before him - are really bugging me. They all say the same thing: "I made a mistake." And there's an implied request in that for us to forgive them their "mistakes." And then there's an expectation that the public should give him credit these guys credit for telling the truth - after being caught.

Yes, a "mistake" is a wrong, but it most often carries the connotation of being an accident brought on by ignorance, ineptitude or poor judgment.

Guys who have affairs, or steal, or lie or whatever else they are "apologizing" for are not making "mistakes." They are willfully, and knowingly doing wrong.

And it's not the sex that's a problem, it's the LYING, the CHEATING that's the problem. They hide it because they KNOW it it wrong for them to do. And thinking they might get away with it is not excused by "poor judgment."

And it's not just semantics that's bothering me, it's the refusal to take real responsibility and OWN it. An admission that is really just a request for forgiveness makes us responsible for a satisfactory resolution to the problem they created.

What's missing is a good synonym for "sin" - willfully, knowingly doing wrong. When you truly own that you have "sinned," there's a price to pay. There's atonement. And forgiveness isn't something that's simply granted. It's something that must be earned.
5:58pm: Awful Pick Up Lines
Inspired by a friend's post about 80s video dating, here are some awful pick up lines I've heard (though never used - I swear):
"I like your dress. It would look good on the floor next to my bed."
(Touching a woman's sleeve with a wetted finger tip) "Let's go back to my place so you can slip out of those wet things."
"Do you believe in love at first sight, or should I walk by again?"
"If you were a library book, you'd have 'fine' written all over you."
"Do you have the time? I want to remember the exact moment I fell in love."
"You're so fine I would drink your bath water."
"Somebody call God - one of his angels is missing"
"Hi. I'm Mr. Right. I heard that you were looking for me."
"Can I buy you a drink, or would you rather have breakfast in bed?"

You got any favorites?
8:07am: Hey There, Cthulhu

26th September 2009

7:49am: Mind-blowing Sand Artist
In case you haven't seen this yet - the sand artist who won Ukraine's Got Talent:

(To fully appreciate the audience's reaction, you should know that the Nazis killed 25% of the Ukraine's population.)

Watch her other You Tube clips. They are all mesmerizing.

17th September 2009

2:14pm: Help other patients like Mary Travers
The National Marrow Donor Program (where I work) facilitated Mary Travers' transplant.

From CNN: Travers had undergone a successful bone marrow transplant to treat her leukemia and was able to return to performing after that.

"It was like a miracle," Travers told The Associated Press in 2006. "I'm just feeling fabulous. What's incredible is someone has given your life back. I'm out in the garden today. This time last year I was looking out a window at a hospital." She also said she told the marrow donor "how incredibly grateful I was."

Other patients like Mary are seeking donors. You could be the one. To find out how you can save a life, visit http://www.marrow.org/

30th August 2009

5:43pm: An adventure in confidence - Moving a big screen TV.
Our basement isn't really this much of a mess. I was rearranging and purging stuff from my office, and it ended up here until it was moved along. Anyway, this story is about the monster TV.


We've been wanting to replace it with an HD, flat screen for a while, but were leery about moving it. Moving it in was something of a nightmare project - we only had about 1/8 inch clearance on our low ceiling stairs - and that was after we took off the casters.

But Mathew and Nathan showed up with a trailer, on their way to moving Mathew to his grandma's house. When we told hm our plan, he asked if they could take the TV - Mathew scoffed at paying movers to get it out.

Nathan and I were still reluctant, but Mathew pushed, eventually infecting us with his enthusiasm for the challenge. I measured and remeasured. Shit - the TV was about 49 1/4 inch high, and the smallest spot between the edge of the ceiling and the edge of the stair was now about 49. Since we'd moved it in, I'd installed a new drop ceiling, which shaved off the tiny margin we'd had the first time. There would be no way to force it.

Read more...Collapse )

We rock!

16th July 2009

7:52pm: Who? Who?
All her life, my mom has liked owls - collected owl knick knacks, dolls, etc. Yesterday, a beautiful owl appeared in my parent's side yard, right outside the sliding door in the living room. In broad daylight. It stayed all day, all night, and was still there this morning. Just perched on the palm tree, checking out the other birds that were eating the seed my dad scatters for them, and watching us through the window. He never even moved when we went into the yard to get stuff from the shed. We took his picture with my brother's phone. Will post later.

Right before we left for the airport, we looked for him one last time - but he was gone.

Insert Twilight Zone music...
7:22pm: Cry until you laugh
My mom specifically stated that she didn't want any special box or urn for her ashes - that we would provide our own - just anything. So we asked the mortuary about the dimensions we would need. Then we set about trying to find a container that mom would approve of, but wouldn't absolutely horrify the people at the mortuary. We kids joked about they way mom used to "wrap" Christmas gifts in brown grocery bags and masking tape. And she never bought Tupperware, just saved margarine tubs. Trink suggested we put her in a tub. "I can't believe it's not butter!" I upped it with a little ditty, "If you think it's butter, but it's not, it's your mom!"

Dave suggested a Mrs. Butterworth syrup bottle.

We settled on a $3 white craft box from -- Walmart -- (shudder).

Funny cremation story:

We had paperwork authorizing the cremation, but needed my Dad's signature, as my sister's power of attorney status for my mom ended with her death. They said they probably wouldn't be able to do the cremation before Friday, since they needed death certificates, etc. When we returned with the signed paperwork - the authorization they NEEDED- they first said that they wouldn't be able to do it until Tuesday. We pressed them to see if they could do it sooner, so my brother wouldn't have to extend his stay. Then they said they could speed it up - then they checked their schedule and told us they had already cremated her. Wha? While my sister was still holding the "authorization" in her hand? It was fine, but on the way out, we laughed about how it would have gone down if we had said that we had changed our mind and wanted a full funeral with a viewing and everything. As fans of Six Feet Under, we joked that even Ricko couldn't fix that one.

Then, when we were at the caregiver agency, settling up, Trink waited until the person at the desk went in back to get some files to help herself to the candy bowl on the counter. She was sorting through it when the woman suddenly reappeared, and Trink froze like she was caught - both hands full of candy. She had to try to discretely shove some in her pocket to free up her hand to take the papers that were being handed to her.

When things are sad and intense, the weird humor that only other family members "get" really sparkles.

9th July 2009

1:25am: Rain on me
Mom ate well again today, even came out to the living room to sit in her chair for a little while. Trink and I went grocery shopping, and a storm blew up - lightning and thunder and monsoon rains. The power went out in the store, so we got so shop in the dark. Then a transformer went down, closing off the road we needed to take back. So we drove around looking for an alternate route, while the roads turned to rivers. We took the long way home, but got back safe. Mom faded during dinner as her meds kicked in, and she was having a hard time breathing. She told Trink that we wished she could just pass during the night - that she's ready, has no fear and no regrets. My brother Dave, who has joined us out here, with my niece, Nikki, thinks the end is imminent. But I don't feel like it is just yet. Either way, I feel like I'm OK to come home, as long as I'm ready to return to help Dad get resettled. Dave is driving me to the airport at 6:30 a.m., so he can get back to meet with the nurse in the morning. Trink also feels like she has to leave, confident that everything is in place and Mom is in no pain. Dave is staying on, and we'll all keep in touch.

7th July 2009

11:29pm: Today's mom quote
Struggling to adjust herself in bed and scoot over, "I wish I had a big, shiny, slippery rump!"


She started dilaudid today for pain management. Fun Fact: Dilaudid is seven times more potent than straight morphine or oxycodone. It was developed as an alternative to heroin when that became criminalized.

William Burroughs likes it. Take a look: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3UZJWtXLowY

And on a more serious note, I found an excellent resource about end of life care:

9:44am: Mom, morphine and making merry at bedside
As I posted previously, my mom has always had a good sense of humor that runs to the morbid, self-deprecating side. Combine that with her lifelong anxiety about being in control of everything, the stress of dying, lots of new people and "commotion," plus morphine, and you have all the makings for a dark cabaret.

Yesterday morning, she was lucid enough to want to talk to Trink and me, but still high enough from the morphine that it just added a bizzare quality to what she was saying and doing.

She was playing with us a little, making us guess a kind of charades she was doing with her hands. She was holding one hand above the other, fingers gathered and pointed, like she was holding a pendulum. The other hand was a closed fist. We struggled,and Mom was seeming a little irritated that we couldn't guess. "Come on Wizard," can't you figure it out?" Then Trink had a psychic burst and realized she was trying to represent an exclamation point, a reference to her and my dad's lifelong game of writing I-L-Y-! on each other with their fingers.

Next, Mom started spelling words by forming her fingers into letter shapes. It was backwards and pretty shaky, but Trink figured out P-E-T, and we guessed that she was spelling my name, Peter. Next, she started T-R-I-and then got frustrated because she couldn't get the rest. I suggested N, and Trink guessed "Trink," but Mom said that wasn't it, and acted annoyed that we were being so dense.

"I always called you my angel babies," she said, "but you must be a bastard baby if you can't guess!"

"Bastard baby." That was a shocker.

She was telling us about her experience in the hospital, insisting, "Sit down, I'm telling a funny story" And she proceeded to do the voice and mannerisms of an apparently handsome, long-haired, earring-wearing Jamaican male nurse who fitted her with a catheter. "No, no," she assured her, "I am de best! No pain, no infection! See? This is clean finger, this is dirty finger, I de best!"

She told me that even when she was groggy, and I was backlit by the window, she knew it was me because of the way my hair stuck up.

She also told us that she should hurry up and die faster in order to save money.

She called out of the blue, "I can sue the hospital!" and recounted some grievances about being pinched, left alone for too long, etc.

She didn't like a particular night caregiver (they are all really sweet and gentle, but she's confused). When Trink asked if she'd like to change position in bed, Mom made a very faint gesture to becon Trink close and whispered, "I don't dare move. She (the caregiver)might realize that I'm not dead yet!"

And last night, she joked(?)that if that girl came back, we should get her (my mom) a baseball bat.

At another time she held up her now ringless finger and announced, I've decided to get divorced!

When Trink and I were both hugging her and she was calling us her angel-babies agian, she said "You used to be so adorable." And Trink teased her "We're still adorable." To which my mom smiled weakly and shook her head,no, teasing us back.

She's joked that she feels like she's in a luxury hotel, ringing her bell and getting served meals in bed.

Trink had asked if she'd like any of her stuffed animals in bed with her. "No, They'd squish me." (And at <85 pounds she could be right.) She really is about the size of my Halloween paper-mache body.

But she's still eating like a trooper - yogurt and fruit and toast, macaroni, even desserts. She always thanks the caregivers profusely and tells them how good everything is, then whispers to us when they leave the room, "...But it's not as good as I make!)

She asked a caregiver if my dad was eating, and she assured my mom that he was, and that he'd done a good job at the store, getting everything on the list. That baffled my mom, because she's so certain that my dad is incapable of doing anything without her explicit directions. She even said that my dad wouldn't know what he wanted to eat unless she told him.

The night before, when she was really high on morphine, he said at one point, something like, "You need a doctor to say the time." She was very insistent with those words in various combinations. We asked if she wanted a doctor, or to know the time, and she did not. I got the impression that she was thinking of TV hospital shows - that you need a doctor to call the time of death. That is so perfectly her. Telling us exactly how it's supposed to be, and feeling like she can't die because she's the only one who knows the right way to do anything.

Trink has also explained to the caregivers about mom, so that they know not to try to correct her, or assume she is raving. "Yes, she really doesn't want an urn or a box or orbituary or anything like that. Yes, she wants her ashes set aside until after my Dad is also gone, so that both of their ashes can be mixed together -- with their CAT'S ashes, that she has held onto for several years now, for that very purpose.

Trink is a little uncomfortable with this plan, "Like, am I supposed to use a mixing bowl or what?"

Trink has been fantastic. At one point last night after a calm, quiet day, Mom started getting upset again, worrying about how much everything was costing. Trink gently reassured her that she'd saved her whole life to make sure they had enough, and there was plenty left for Dad, and that everything was taken care of because she'd made such good plans, and that we had all the papers she'd prepared and we were following her instructions.

That calmed her down. Then Trink led her through a guided visualization. She reminded my mom of a favorite path in the woods that she used to hike when we camped at Spring Bay Farm. She had a particular memory of walking alone through the dappled sunlight among the birch trees and ferns, and how a little bird was hopping ahead of her, as if leading her along the path. "Think of that path. Dad and the rest of us are back at the campsite, laughing and having fun, and we're all fine and we love you. And you are free to just follow the path, follow the happy little bird." Mom smiled and relaxed, she really liked that.

4th July 2009

5:42pm: Of yardwork and dying
I feel like I should post something, but feel intimidated because it should be profound, but I don't feel it in me. I'm torn between writing about the mundane yard work that has filled my weekend, and the fact that my mom is dying, and I'm flying out to Arizona tomorrow to be with her, my dad and sister.

The mundane yard work:
I am pleased with myself for digging up another huge mound of weeds, trees and ivy. We have so much yard waste, that a tree service is coming out to chip it and cart it off. I have scattered piles around the yard that I need to consolidate, but I feel tired and don't want to do it. I've also almost completed the sandwich board I made for a performer friend, but it needs a little touch up paint around the hinges. But I'm tired and don't feel like doing it.

Yesterday, a friend came and picked up all the the extra garage sale stuff we had left over, and took it for the church rummage sale. I went to Kohl's and got a bunch of new clothes at 50% off.

This morning, my BiL and I drove four mattresses over to a homeless shelter. Then moved the rest of Doug's furniture out of his apartment and took it to his dad's for storage. Then we went to the Rail Station for lunch.

The dying:
That's when my sister called with the news that my mom had taken a turn for the worse and the hospice people said that she should come back now if she could.

Then I drove Rachel to Target so she could buy bras and I could buy cat litter. Then I drove her work in downtown St. Paul.

And it's Mathew's 21st birthday, and I'm thinking about how fast the time has gone, and despite all the changes, it seems so close that his mom and I were watching the fireworks from the tenth floor window of Fairview Hospital just before he was born. And how scary it was that she lost so much blood and needed a transfusion.

I'm happy that he's found his own fun. I'm so proud of how all the kids are doing, and the fine people they have become.

And I'm thinking about some great stories my sister has shared about when from when she was with my mom last week. MY dad usually gets the credit for being the funny one - but my mom has always had a pretty great sense of humor, too.

Telling her nurse, "I'm not a lesbian or anything, but I just have to tell you -- you are beautiful!"

After my sister pointed out that she had repeated a story about how her hospital stay was going to cost millions - even after my sister had pointed out that it was mostly covered by their insurance and Medicare - she put her hand to her mouth and mischievously said, "I'm a LIAR!"

Saying that the food the hospice people were making was so good and that she was eating so much that "I'm going to get so fat, they'll have to roll me out of here!" (She weighs less than 85 lbs.)

Saying that when she was initially taken to the hospital that the room she was in was so cold, that she thought they had wheeled her straight to the morgue.

Unable to hang the remote control for the bed in a convenient spot on the bed rail, she hung it around her tiny wrist - to keep it out of the way.

And she's said stuff that's not so funny - like explaining to my sister that she had taken off her wedding ring - for the first and only time in 66 years - because she didn't want it to accidentally get burned up when she's cremated.

So, I need to pack and get my plan in order and see if I can borrow someone's cell phone and paint the sign and move the brush and call in to work and straighten out my projects for next week ...

And I'm tired and I don't want to.

But I will.

21st June 2009

8:42am: The TRUTH about Dungeons and Dragons!
... it will take you to hell faster than a greased demon on roller skates!

Excerpts from some great links I found this morning:

Dungeons and Dragons is a tragic and tangled subject. It is essentially a feeding program for occultism and witchcraft.

The materials themselves, in many cases, contain authentic magical rituals. I can tell you this from my own experience. I was a witch high priest (Alexandrian tradition) during the period 1973-84. During some of that period (1976-80) I was also involved in hardcore Satanism. We studied and practiced and trained more than 175 people in the Craft. Our "covendom" was in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; just a short drive away from the world headquarters of TSR, the company which makes Dungeons and Dragons in Lake Geneva, WI. In the late 1970's, a couple of the game writers actually came to my wife and I as prominent "sorcerers" in the community. They wanted to make certain the rituals were authentic. For the most part, they are.

Literally millions of young people are unknowingly participating in genuine occult practices and opening the doors for demons to enter their bodies through this seemingly innocent game.

By the time they find out they were hood-winked, it's too late. They have taken that last step down the stairway to hell and are greeted by the engulfing flames.


And check out this illustrated tract about one young girl's seduction into Satanism through D&D, and her salvation that ends with a D&D book burning.


And take your Cthulhu, too!
... there is now a whole line of materials based on the hellish H.P. Lovecraft Cthulhu mythos, a form of magic that we practiced in the darkest days of our satanic career - a system of magic prominently featured in THE SATANIC RITUALS by Anton LaVey. Contrary to the ramblings of D&D defenders, the Necronomicon and the Cthulhu mythos are quite real.

10th June 2009

2:57pm: I Double-Dog Dare You!
Does the idea of donating bone marrow freak you out? Does it give you the heebie-jeebies? Have you seen too many horrible scenes on "House" to even consider it?

Don't be a chicken. 12 million people around the world have already joined, and I know that you're just as brave as any of them. Just by joining, you give hope to patients and their families. You might be the only person who's the perfect match for a patient.

People who have donated say that it's one of the most profound and rewarding experiences of their life. Almost everyone says they would do it again.

I can't help but think of the discomfort people happily endure (even crave) getting pierced and tattooed, and what do they get in return? A tiny piece of jewelry, a mark. How about committing a fraction of the effort to saving another person's life? Now THAT's something that would really set you apart!

I double-dog dare you to learn the myths and facts about donating.
2:10pm: Nathan! Mathew! Dave! Rachel! And anyone else who's interested.
You've expressed interest in joining the marrow registry, and now you can, for free. Fill out the online form and get a cheek swab kit in the mail. Forward this link to your friends. Who knows - you could be the one to save a life.


8th June 2009

10:18am: Be The Match Marrowthon
Sign up to save a life.

You can join the marrow donor registry for free, online - get a cheek swab kit in the mail - it's that easy.

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