Friday, February 27, 2009

Cutting emissions, the hard way

The things I do for you people.

I mean, this time, I think I've really gone the extra mile. (The extra 1.6 km for my metric friends.)

How many bloggers would go under the knife for what they believe in? How many would endure the cruelest cut?

Yes, dear readers, in support of my beliefs, I've been snipped.

In this case, my beliefs are that: A) Three kids is already too many. Once you're outnumbered, it's over; B) We're already out of bedrooms in our house; and C) The extra tax breaks for having kids aren't really worth it.

I should say that you won't hurt my feelings if you want to skip over this cringe-worthy post. I wouldn't blame you. But you know me. How can I not tell a good story? Especially one that involves my own misfortunes?

So first off, forget what you've heard about vasectomies. It's not quite as minor a procedure as you've been led to believe. At least for me it wasn't. Maybe it removed my manhood and turned me into a big wuss, but I kind of feel like the word "snip" is a little too understated.

I mean, here you are, lying flat on your back, clothed only in a very large paper napkin from the waist down. They've torn a hole in the napkin to expose your goods, and then aimed a giant spotlight on them. You know the big light they use to summon Batman? Exact same light.

Having not humiliated you enough, the nurse comes in and takes your pillow away. You see, your head apparently can't be higher than the part that's being anesthetized.

Then they swab you down with something cold, and out come the needles.

But I need to back up for a sec.

Out of curiosity, have you ever tried to shave a partially deflated balloon?

A few of you out there probably haven't. Well, if you had, you'd have some sense of what shaving a scrotum is like. It's a tricky business, especially allowing for the occasional nicks and cuts that come with shaving. There's just no good way to do it. And I can honestly say I hope I don't ever have to spend that much quality time with the old marble sack again.

So anyway, back in the "procedure room", here I am, under the lights. I've got this giant Kleenex for modesty's sake, only it doesn't actually cover anything that needs to be covered for modesty's sake. I mean, the frank & beans are the one area it specifically doesn't cover. I've got an audio book to act as a distraction -- hey, it worked at the dentist! -- but I'm not hearing a single word of it.

Lying on my back is making me cough. What I thought was the remnants of my previous cold turned out to be an oncoming bout of bronchitis.

The doctor gets out the first needle, and says something that specficially does not involve the words, "feel a little prick." And he puts the needle, apparently, directly into my actual testicle. It doesn't really feel very good, I have to say. But the anesthesia kicks in pretty quickly and I'm left to lay back and let my brain record material for my upcoming alien abduction nightmares.

I thought from that point I wouldn't feel much, and it'd be over in a few minutes. The weird thing was that I didn't feel pain, but I still had some feeling. I could feel hot and cold and movement and touch. Just not pain. Very strange.

Anyway, I keep thinking, "He's got to be almost done. He's got to be almost done." I start convincing myself that he is almost done. I mean, he's been rummaging around in my junk for like, oh a couple hours now, hasn't he? It was probably only ten of your Earth minutes, but time has a way of distorting when your family jewels are surrounded by a plastic collar and sharp instruments are about.

And I can't stop coughing. After every cough, I wait for him to say, "Oops."

Finally he says, "There it is! It was just wrapped in some fatty tissue." What a strange thing to know about one's self.

I breathe a tiny bit easier.

Then it hits me: The male reproductive system is equipped not with one vas deferens, but two. We're only halfway there.

Needle number two comes out, and this time it hurts. Not excruciatingly, but I'm feeling discomfort from my testicle straight up through my hip. Apparently there's a pretty fat bundle of nerves tied to those things or something. He give me a little more of whatever he's using and the pain goes away. But the cold sweat starts. Fight or flight kicks in. That fat bundle of nerves has a high-speed connection straight to the brain. That's part of why kicking somebody in the nuts is so effective. The nurse gives me a damp paper towel for my forehead. The same flimsy material as my modesty cloth, I think. The coolness feels good for the five and a half seconds it takes the paper towel to reach body temperature. So the nurse tries to distract me by talking about the semen samples I'll have to provide in a couple months.

They really know how to make a guy feel comfortable.

At long last, they're done. I call my wife to come pick me up, and she says, "Wow. That was quick!"

[...pause for effect...]


Now the recovery procedure is supposed to be to just take it easy for a couple days. Just sit back, relax, and enjoy some time off, right? Yeah, except that after the medication wears off, it kind of feels like you got kicked in the balls. For three days.

They told me to wear a jock strap for a week. The problem with this is that, well, it puts pressure right where you don't want pressure. I mean, somebody's been cutting and prodding and snipping. There's swelling. Squeezing said area seems like a Bad Plan. Especially since an athletic supporter is designed to support normal, rather than swollen, body parts. But as it turns out, it works someting like an ace bandage wrapped on a sprain. If you take it off, you get more swelling, which leads to more discomfort. So it's a no win.

So recovery is not quite just a matter of sitting back and taking it easy. It's a matter of not really wanting to do anything for a few days. Especially since -- haven't they done enough already? -- they told me I couldn't take aspirin, ibuprofen, or any other anti-inflamatory. 'Cause reducing the swelling would detract from the whole experience. I could take Tylenol for the discomfort though, which to me is about like saying I could take jelly beans.

I'd also like to add that coughing and tender testicles don't get along that well. You wouldn't think there's a connection, but it seems those little nuggets are connected to everything. I can now say from experience that having a vasectomy plus coughing fits that wrack your whole body at the same time is... not as fun as it sounds.

But thankfully, the deep purple is fading. The discomfort is waning. The swelling is subsiding. The incision is healing. I'm looking forward to the day when the stubble grows out, and it no longer feels like there's a golden ball cactus in my pants.

And the next time I see a neutered dog, I will go well out of my way to pet him.



Sunday, February 22, 2009

Simon's Cat

Enough doom. Engaging levity engines.



Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Just to follow up on that last post...

The crisis explained in one chart

This chart compares total debt (or “credit”) in the U.S. to GDP (or Gross Domestic Product) on a percentage basis. Current total credit-market debt stands at more than 340 percent of total GDP.

So that big spike in the 1930's was during the Great Depression. But it wasn't a run-up in debt that caused that spike. It was the GDP contracting out from under the debt value. (Remember this graph is debt/GDP ratio, so if you shrink the bottom half of the fraction, the line goes up.)

In the current crisis, up until now at least, GDP has not been shrinking. At least not much. The spike is because our debt is increasing. The remedy, supposedly, is even more debt. The line goes up. And what if our economy shrinks and our GDP declines? (What if!) Yes, the line goes up. Put them together, and.... well, hang on, we're already off the freakin' charts here. We're gonna take that line in the red oval, and cause it to spike?


Our government is insolvent.

And I was really hoping for some nice tax rebates for solar panels and hybrid cars. And a functional health care system. And money for retirement. Oh well, maybe next time.

So start picking out names for the new country you and your neighbors will be forming.

A few thoughts when you're drafting up new laws: Don't give corporations the same legal status as individuals. Don't let bankers be in charge of banking regulations. Don't let chemical companies be in charge of agricultural policy. And don't have an electoral college.

Feel free to add your own suggestions.


Labels: , , ,

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Aw come on!

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is a number that represents the value of all the goods & services produced by a country. You basically add up the cost of every single thing that's sold.

It seems that the US government now has debts and obligations that total more than the GDP for the entire planet.

Keynsian economics (named for early 20th century economist John Maynard Keynes -- for some reason pronounced "canes") dictates that during a recession or a depression, you have to "spend your way out," even if it means running up bigger debts.

Well, Mission Accomplished then.

I'm actually thinking of adopting Keynsian principles at home. Uh-oh, our debts are getting to big! We'd better go spend some money! We need to stimulate our household economy! At least until our debts exceed the total income of everyone in our community. Maybe we can even start doing some of our own quantitative easing with our inkjet printer and some good paper!

Seriously, what could go wrong?


Friday, February 13, 2009

A new challenge

Well, after the rousing success(?) of my Easiest Challenge Ever, I'm raising the stakes. In the words of frequent Presidential candidate Pat Paulsen, "I've upped my standards. Now, up yours!"

But instead of posting it here, I'm using a more credible platform. And so, my wise and brilliant readers, please click on this link and join the fun. Spring is coming up fast. Well, unless you're in the southern hemisphere. In that case, I guess you'll need to come up with your own challenge....


Labels: , ,

Monday, February 09, 2009

Thank You A-Rod!

You know, I used to love baseball. But we broke up. It just didn't work out in the end. We still see each other occasionally, but it's platonic.

However, I do want to say a quick thank you to Alex Rodriguez. Sounds weird, but bear with me. Lots of people didn't like him before. Now he's got a positive steroid test to answer for. How can I be taking his side?

He did it. He got caught. (Here comes the tricky part...) He owned up to it.

"I did take a banned substance."

Compare to: "I did not have sexual relations with that woman."

Yes, A-Rod is an idiot. No, it doesn't make him a good person. I'm not interested in determining that. Same goes for Michael Phelps.

BUT... Rodriguez and Phelps both did something they shouldn't have, and when they got caught, they admitted it. No slicing and dicing words, not much spin... Just, "yeah, ya got me."

We've gone too long watching people get caught and then acting innocent and indignant and defiant. Pete Rose. Bill Clinton. Barry Bonds. Roger Clemens. Rod Blagojevich.

Maybe it really went big-time with the OJ Simpson trial. Well, not lying to cover your ass, but having these adamant denials in the face of overwhelming evidence. It almost became a part of our culture, moving from gangster movies to news coverage. Blago seems to have been the pinnacle of this movement, denying without ever actually explaining, and skipping his own impeachment trial. Dragging people in wheelchairs out to try and get sympathy, without ever actually countering the evidence.

You cheat, you lie, you spin, you accuse. Then you do it all again to cover up the prior actions. Place just a few seeds of doubt. Paint just the right picture that your supporters will keep supporting you. Give them an excuse, something to reply with at the water cooler, and the True Believers will buy almost anything.

Well, I'm glad we've got a new trend going now. Let's hope it lasts.

This post brought to you by Stimulis Because All Economies Have Performance Issues:

Ask your Representative if Stimulis is right for you.



Sunday, February 08, 2009

News in Brief

Today the temperatures were up into the 50's F. The baby was asleep, the other two kids were occupied... I saw an opportunity and I went for it.

I started what will be a very long process of cleaning out the barn. This winter has been long already. Not extreme, but long. We haven't caught many breaks. And the barn has become a big frozen mess.

Is it weird that I was looking forward to cleaning out a barn stall? Is it weird that, though I got pretty filthy in the process, and it smelled pretty bad, that I was happy to do it? Is it weird that I'm exhausted, but I don't mind?

There's something satisfying about tangible results. You should see the size of the pile of future compost I made today. You should see the size of the ice cube I extracted from the watering trough. (It's about 4 feet long, 1.5 feet wide, and almost a foot thick. It weighs approximately one Volkwagen. I hope that cow appreciates the effort, though I wouldn't bet on it.

The chickens even gave us two eggs. They've only just started laying again, after shutting it down back in mid-November. Of course Amelia found them on the drying rack in the kitchen and dropped them on the floor. But if we're very lucky, tomorrow or the next day we can resume eating the Best Eggs Ever.

The barn is not clean. But it's cleaner than it was yesterday. Meadow has fresh, unfrozen water in significant quantities. And I don't have to haul buckets or come up with ever more creative ways of providing it.

I guess pushing bits around on a computer for 40 hours a week has some major advantages, but strangely, I find I'd rather be shoveling cow shit. Which is good, since there's plenty more where that came from.


Labels: ,

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Top 10 Mid-Winter Annoyances least here at the old Soggy Bottom Ranch.

10. The waterline to the barn freezes up, which means hauling buckets of water from the upstairs bathtub out to the barn, putting on and removing boots as needed with each of several trips.

9. Checking the weather forecast and seeing a warm spell is three days away... every day.

8. Snow days and snow delays at the drop of a hat.

7. You never want to turn off the heat stove long enough to cool down so you can clean it out, which makes it burn less efficiently, which leads to more work.

6. The asshat who ran over our mailbox. When your mailbox post is sheared off at ground level and the ground is frozen solid, well, you have to get creative if you want your mail before spring.

5. The daily trek across the icy death trap mentioned in yesterday's post.

4. Finding yourself in the plot of a Jim Carey movie.

3. Meadow taking a shit right in her water trough, then having the water freeze solid.

2. The chickens deciding the rail next to Meadow's water trough is a great place to perch. And shit.

1. Frozen chicken eggs


Top 10 Excuses for not updating my blog

10. My job is suddenly and inexplicably busy. Not that I'm complaining at this point.

9. Too busy looking all over town for rock salt to dissolve the icy death trap that stretches from the front door to the driveway.

8. Too many interesting side projects with the possible hope of maybe one day being compensated.

7. Too many dangling snotsickles, snot bubbles, and snot blockages to wipe off kids' faces.

6. Not enough sleep to go around.

5. Too many random-but-interesting email notifications from Facebook ever since I signed up for an account last week.

4. Too many snow days for the kids put me way behind on anything involving concentration. Or typing.

3. Can't stop sneezing long enough to type a coherent thought.

2. It's so cold out, my blog froze solid.

1. I ran out of expired Nyquil.

Cue the band...