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Thursday, September 23, 2004
I Feel Fantastic
I guess I do, anyway.
This morning, for the first time in nearly four years, I went to the doctor for a physical. The reason for the delay, naturally, is that I spent most of that time as one of the 45 million uninsured citizens of the world's wealthiest nation, which is run by Christians. Still trying to get that one to jibe. Anyway...
I made this appointment three months ago. That was the delay, three months. But I figure, it's an initial visit to a new doctor, and it's going to take a little extra time, which is good. Any number of things on me may be failing, and I am prepared to take the time to see what they might be. My appointment was for 8am.
I arrive at 7:45, like a reasonable human being. I pay up front (naturally), and I sit my ass down. At 8:05, a fat old guy walks in, exchanges pleasantries with the receptionist, and breezes straight back to see a doctor. After all. he had an 8am appointment, too. Same thing with an older woman that wandered in. Well fine, they seem healthy, but maybe they really have a more urgent problem. Go ahead!
At 8:25, I am summoned back by a pretty Asian lady, who I believe was a resident doctor in training or something. So, I get weighed and measured, and head back to the little room. She checks my blood pressure and pulse, which incidentally were not relayed to me, the fucking patient. The doctor finally comes in and we exchange brief pleasantries.
"How ya doing?"
"Fine, I guess. You tell me."
"When's the last time you had a tetanus shot?"
"Dunno. Guess it's been too long, then."
"Ya want one?"
And she's looking at me the same way you would if you were asking someone if they wanted a Coke or something.
I opt for the tetanus shot.
She tells me to get undressed, but to leave the underwear on. I'm not old enough yet for the really fun part of a physical examination, apparently. So, I change into a nice blue gown thing, and sit down on the table and wait.
She and the pretty resident return, and she gets out the scope thing with the light that they use to look in your ears and mouth. She's complaining to the resident about how small some of these rooms are, and some other person that I don't know. She looks in both ears with the scope, then into my mouth. Let me correct that. She stuck the scope in my ears and mouth, but she was bitching the whole time, and I'm pretty sure she didn't actually look at anything. Having been to the doctor before, they usually look at your pupils too, but not today. She keeps moving, and asks if I have any moles on my back. I resist the urge to ask how the fuck I would know if I had anything on my back, but I just shrug. She takes a look, and I infer that I am mole-free.
So, I ease back onto the crinkly paper, and she starts pushing on my feet, right along the big toe. That's a new one for me. In the past, I have always preferred to use internists, as they seem to be better trained, but for some reason this time, I have a general practitioner. But at least she's pushing on my big toe.
She moves up the leg to the abdomen, pressing down in spots, which at least is a familiar procedure. I don't know what they are looking for, but they all look for it. Next, feel around the neck and jaw for lymph node issues, but I guess I'm clean.
I stand up, and it's hernia check time, also known as turn-your-head-and cough. However, I still have the drawers on as directed. She yanks them down to my knees and manhandles my nuts to the extent that I am still sore. I turn my head and cough, amused at the idea of the pretty Asian doctor in training having to get a good look at my junk. In retrospect, she couldn't have been too hot, because my doctor was in no danger of having her eye poked out or anything.
Ten seconds later, they're barrelling out the door.
"You doing any blood work today, Doctor?" I ask.
"Have you eaten today?"
"A little bit."
"You'll have to come back."
Now again, I made this appointment THREE months ago. They called me yesterday to remind me, and no one mentioned fasting, or I'm pretty sure I'd have done just that. Why visit twice?
So, she heads out, mentioning that someone would be back in a minute to give me a tetanus shot. I look at my watch, and it's now 8:35.
So, I change back into my clothes and wait. Apparently, my visit with a medical doctor for a physical is over. Now, I had mentioned up front that I had not had a physical in at least four years. In spite of that, I get no chest X-ray, no EKG, no EEG, and of course, no blood work. Frankly, I got as thorough of an examination when the team doctor checked me out before baseball season. There was no inquiry as to whether anything was bothering me, or if had any pain or anything else that I might be concerned about. Honestly, it was a complete waste of time.
So finally, at 9am, someone notices the door has been shut for awhile, and asks if anyone had been in to give me a tetanus shot yet.
"Why would I still be sitting here if I had been given a shot and summarily dismissed?"
Five minutes later, a nurse comes in and asks me which arm I want the shot in. I reply that at this point, I really don't care. The left arm is closest, so in goes the needle. I am thrilled, because I finally feel like I have had some sort of medical procedure. It occurs to me as she slaps on a band-aid that I could have gone to the free clinic to get a tetanus shot and a hernia check, and I'd have saved a fifteen dollar copay, and possibly some time as well.
Maybe I just picked a bad doctor this time, or maybe things have just gotten a lot worse since I was last able to afford medical care. I know that the doctor makes less money if they do more tests on patients, but I honestly believe that most people get into the medical field because they want to help people. I have no problem with doctors making a lot of money. Who should make more money than doctors and teachers? I can't think of anyone. But this doctor was not interested in treating me at all, only getting me in and out, having someone file the paperwork, and on to the next meatbag. It's pretty discouraging.
I don't have any answers for the state of medical costs, and the insurance companies that run everything now. Feel free to post any ideas, including violent ones.
posted at 3:17 PM
Two hours of sleep
It's not really enough for me. I have a feeling I need less sleep than most people, as 5-6 hours usually seems to cut it. But two hours isn't sufficient, and clearly it has affected my judgment, or I wouldn't be writing about it.
Every time I think I've hit rock bottom, CRASH! Right through the fucking floor.
"More strata of bad writing. My God, why doesn't it end?"
No one likes a judgmental archaeologist.
posted at 2:59 AM
Three Years And A Day
I suppose this would have been more appropriate had I written it a few hours earlier. And sure, I could have backdated it, but I am all about keepin' it real.
Anyway, it's hard to believe so much time has gone by since that morning when reality was brought home to US shores by Muslim fanatics. Every time you see the video of the buildings on fire, in some ways, it's still like when you first saw it that morning. This is how the day began for me...
The phone rings and a relative screams down the line at me, "Turn on the TV! A plane crashed into the World Trade Center!" I hung up, and did as I was told.
Sure enough, the North Tower had a big gash in the side of it, and smoke was pouring out. Now, as an American, to a certain extent I wasn't immediately phased by this, and I will explain why. In the previous ten years, I has seen a bomb set off under the World Trade Center, and saw plenty of imagery of that, relatively speaking, damaged building. Additionally, I have seen tons of movies with outrageous special effects, and I know that at first, I probably reacted with the cool distance of seeing something that couldn't possibly be real. But it was.
So, I stand in front of my television looking at this insane image, and it's sinking in slowly. It's Tuesday morning, quarter to nine in New York, and there are people working in there. A lot of people. I assumed that some had to be dead already, seeing as the plane had made a 10-story high dent in the tower. Still, I think I had the natural reaction that most people were going to get out of there ok, if they could just avoid the fire. I stood there watching, trying to reconcile this event.
And then a plane hit the other building. I can only assume that the world, watching their televisions, and New Yorkers standing in lower Manhattan, must have let out a collective "What the fuck?" Why are planes crashing into the goddamned World Trade Center? Suddenly, obviously, this wasn't a tragic accident anymore. Someone was deliberately flying jets into these towers. And there were, I believe, another five thousand planes still in the air over the US.
What I did next may sound odd, but I turned on the radio to the Howard Stern Show. I wanted to get the word from someone on the ground in the city who wasn't constrained by the normal media spin horseshit. And there they all were, trying to describe what was going on, trying to get info, trying to find out if friends and family were still alive. It was probably the most real thing I've ever heard on the radio. Your opinion of Howard Stern may vary, but that son of a bitch stayed on the air live, literally risking his own life, in order to help pass information and help New Yorkers. You have to respect that.
As for me, I had to go to work. It was hard to tear myself away from the TV, but I still have to earn a living. I figured I'd better call first and see what the hell was going on. A friend of mine picks up the phone, and he tells me that the boss says that I can stay home if I want to, since they were closing the building down to traffic. By the way, it's a 28-story skyscraper, and we are in the penthouse. I headed in.
I take the train to work, so I was able to keep listening to the radio as I went, flipping between Stern, NPR, and local stations, seeing what else had happened. Planes were being grounded all over. And still two planes unaccounted for, the ones that would later crash into a Pennsylvania field, and the Pentagon. And I'm headed downtown to go sit on top of a big glass thing. Idiot.
I get up there, and we watch on TV as first one tower, then the other just seemed to melt away and crash to the street below. They were just gone. I knew that as many as 50,000 people could have been in those buildings, and that's just inconceivable. I know Joe Stalin said that if you murder one person, it's a crime, and if you murder a million, that's a statistic. And there's truth there, since humans just don't grasp large numbers in any real way. But I expected the death toll to be over ten thousand. A lot of credit is due to the firemen, policemen, and everyone else who remained calm enough to help get so many out of those doomed buildings. Still, we'd later learn that three thousand would die.
At work, we looked out the window all day. We watched news reports of people lining up at blood banks. We saw pictures of emergency workers preparing to go to New York to assist in the aftermath. And even though I'm a cynical pessimist, I felt really good about a lot of things that day. Most people, in a time of crisis, will step up, and try to do the right thing. Some people will never stop trying to kill others. I don't believe that will ever change.
Three years later, I don't think I've changed that much, although the country has. We have acceded to the stripping of many of our rights in exchange for an illusion of safety. Through utterly incompetent diplomacy, we have alienated nearly the entire world, even the Arab nations that expressed US support after these attacks. I don't think we should build that Liberty Tower (or whatever it's to be called) on the WTC site. It seems childish to build a bigger tower, as if we got punched in the eye on the playground, and staggered away insisting, "See? Didn't hurt."
We don't need to prove anything in that regard. Let's face it: We got our asses kicked. We were asleep, and we got beat up. We're asleep again, and we're going to get popped again. The fanatics who do such things aren't the type who give up. More Americans will surely die. And I can't help but wonder what the casualty figure will have to be before a majority goes to the polls and asks aloud, "We gave up freedoms to our government? For what?"
Obviously, you want to take sensible precautions. If a guy buys a one-way ticket with cash, and has no luggage, search him. But stop wasting everyone's fucking time pulling old ladies and Al Gore out of line for a goddamned patdown. You may not like Al Gore, but I truly doubt he'd ever blow up a plane on which he was riding.
I don't have any solutions here. But if you are from America, perhaps you should ask yourself if you are really any safer than you were three years ago. Ask yourself if the increasingly ominous presence of government in issues of culture is healthy. And think about what you did three years ago when you got the news that America was under attack. Try to remember...
I'll bet whatever you were doing, eating breakfast, working, mowing the lawn, fucking, whatever it was, my guess is you probably didn't spend the next seven minutes frozen, doing nothing.
You should be very angry. Remember. Think. Vote.
posted at 2:36 AM
80.6 Degrees Fahrenheit
Well, so far, I've revealed very few personal details about myself in this esteemed blog, and I still maintain that my life is none of your fucking business. However, for the purposes of another potentially quality-esque post, I will reveal a fascinating nugget:
I was born and raised in Ohio.
And I've lived all over since then. But the reason I mention this now, is because of all of the hurricane activity that the U.S. Banana Republic of Florida is currently enjoying.
"What the hell has your fat ass growing up in Ohio got to do with hurricanes in Florida?"
It's a weather thing, baby.
In Ohio, the weather is stupid. And I mean that in a good way, because the fact that it's always changing is pretty cool, if you ask me. The summers are hot and humid, which admittedly sucks. And the winters can be snowy, and at times unbelievably cold, as in 10-20 below zero, depending on what our Canadian friends are sending. But there are also lots of thunderstorms, and I like thunderstorms. Clearly, that's because I am a hopeless romantic (like I need to tell you).
The point is, weird, violent weather is nothing unusual to Midwesterners, and we tend not to get freaked out by it. But these hurricanes have sure made things interesting in Florida lately. I lived on the East coast for a few years, and experienced two or three hurricanes rolling through the area where I lived. Lots of warm wind, bands of rain, and power outages. Nothing that freaked me out, but I never really got hit head-on. I never assumed that hurricanes or any other natural disaster was the act of some angry god or goddess, but as odd as it seems, there will be political consequences from these storms.
Charley and Frances have put their collective feet squarely up Florida's ass, and Ivan is poised to do the same in the next few days. Fans of democracy can only hope these no-audit, paperless voting machines will be swept out into the Gulf of Mexico to avoid another third world-type fiasco like we had in 2000. And has the universe conspired to take revenge on Floridians for their inability to comprehend a fucking ballot? I just don't know.
But the political fallout of which I speak is certainly going to happen, and the ball is in the president's court. By the time November 2 rolls around, Floridians will still be living in shelters, makeshift homes, etc. And if there are enough of them who feel that the government is not helping them, they will vote to toss King George out on his soft, shrapnel-free ass. Even before Charley had blown ashore in Florida last month, Bush had already committed two BILLION dollars to relief for Florida.
Certainly, just having your little brother rig the polls again would have been cheaper.
Still, I have no problem with the government stepping up to help people at a time like this. Who else will do it? Insurance companies and their fat margins? The private sector? No chance. So, it's kind of fun to see the president pretend he's FDR and chucking bags of cash out to voters, er, storm victims. Hell, after Charley, I saw video of W saying that it was the government's job to get people back on their feet. I was shocked to hear these words come out of his mouth, and not just because he pronounced all of them correctly. Mister Small Government (in theory) feels that sometimes people need help? And the government should provide that help? Optimist that I am, for a second, I thought that George had turned a corner and seen the light. And not the fake one he saw when he found Jesus at the bottom of a pill bottle full of cocaine.
The cynic in me fought back, though. He's just buying votes. He's scared of seeming to not care like his father after hurricane Andrew struck in 1992. Well, it is the president's job to act presidential, and nothing gives one a better chance to radiate fake warmth like a disaster.
So, I say to Florida: Hunker down! Ivan is on the way! And if you fuck up the election again, I hope God breaks your inbred state off at the panhandle and floats your dumb asses all the way down to Mexico, so you can see how efficiently a government can fix an election.
posted at 10:38 AM
You know what? If you can actually relate to this guy and his life, vote for him. If you can't relate, and you still vote for him, you're a fucking Uncle Tom.
Read it, and then please try and find just one reason to vote this small-timer out.
posted at 5:43 PM
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