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My last two months March 8, 2015

Posted by digitalbrownshirt in Ducks, Family, News, Personal Experiences.
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All of this is written under the influence of Norco, Valium and Naproxen, so sorry if it seems like it’s all over the place.

Starting back in December, while I was visiting Southern California for Christmas vacation, I started noticing more pain than usual in my back and leg. I’m a fat, middle aged man. I kind of expect pain in the back. This was the kind that dropped me to the floor and had me blubbering like Michael Moore when he got banned from the local Golden Corral. I thought I’d dislocated my hip. So being a man, I immediately tried ignoring it. I even took my 17 year old daughter to do a last minute Christmas shopping early in the morning on 12/24. I took 3 steps from my car, collapsed in the parking lot, then crawled back to my car on my hands and knees. The pain was easily a 9 or 10 on the 1-10 scale. Still I didn’t want to disappoint my daughter so I said “Here’s a $100, buy whatever you need, but try to be quick.” After 5 minutes I start looking for ER’s or at least an Urgent Care that handles sports injuries (the closest thing to a dislocated hip). Five minutes after that I texted my daughter (that’s right, I know how to text now) “Wrap it up. We’ve got to go to an ER.” Before you think my daughter is being selfish for shopping, let me tell you that in our house, if I tell the kids to do something, it’s very difficult to argue with me. She was kind of between a rock and a hard place at that point.

We ended up at a place called Apple Urgent Care. I figured they picked the name “Apple” because it was one of the first words in their Spanish/English dictionaries that they recognized. I talked to several people there, all of them seemed really sweet, but I’d bet money all of them were half guessing at what I was trying to tell them. There’s a lot of places in California that a working knowledge of Spanish probably would help. We were in Hemet, which 30 years ago was a small, peaceful retirement town near the mountains. Now it’s gang banger central with drive-by’s, home invasions and a ridiculous amount of violent crime for a such a small city. I heard more crime stories waiting at the pharmacy later than we have back home in a year. Even the doctor seemed perplexed by my explanation of my pain. I told her I’d been taking Naproxen, but it barely had any effect, so of course she gives me a prescription for Naproxen (which isn’t even a prescription medication). She also gave me a prescription for Norco (which worked a little better). She also made me drive (keep in mind I can barely stand up) to another facility to have an x-ray of my hip done. I only found out the x-ray was “normal” because I called back 3 days later. Not too impressed with the professionalism.

So I thought, I could either tough it out with pain that ranged from 2-6 while using Norco or actually check into a California hospital. I decided I’d rather get killed by an Oklahoma doctor, at least they wouldn’t have to ship the body home. Oddly enough, the only position that didn’t seem to completely kill me was sitting in the car. The Norco bottle didn’t say no driving on it, so I just tried to take it easy as we started back on our 1500 mile trip home. I let my wife drive some and we actually stopped in a Holiday Inn Express in New Mexico.

My family doctor finally saw me around 1/8/15, gave me another prescription for Norco and sent me out for an MRI on 1/15/15. Big surprise, it was a herniated disk between the L4 and L5. So the results get back to my doc, who then sets me up with a specialist on 1/22/15. She takes a look at the MRI and say’s “Piece of cake. It’s right in the back of the spine, so it’ll be easy to get to. We’ll just grind off a little of each vertebrae and take that pressure off the disk.” So I’m thinking “Awesome, it’s not in my head.” I actually worry about that sometimes. It’s out surgery which is also cool because at 46 years old I’ve never been a patient in a hospital before. I have to get a few more test done on 1/29/15, then the actual the actual surgery on 2/5/15. It seemed like it went really well and they sent me home the same day.

It went really well for about 2 weeks at least. All the stuff I read up about the surgery suggested I’d have about a 3% chance of infection. Guess it was more like 100% for me. I had a high fever, got more delusional than normal and ended up going back to the hospital on 2/18/15. I ended up staying in the hospital for over a week. My white blood cell count was through the roof (apparently that’s bad, I had to ask) and they did another MRI on me that said it was either an hematoma or an abscess on my spine. They stuck a tube up into my spine to drain blood and pus. They also grew some cultures from my spinal fluid to find out what was actually trying to kill me. Amongst other things I had a staph infection inside of my spine. It’s the weirdest feeling when a doctor tells you that you can die or maybe just be paralyzed by something you can’t even see without a damned microscope. Luckily there’s apparently more than one type of staph and I only got the one that made you want to kill yourself instead of the one that actually does it. By the way, the windows on the 7th floor of the hospital don’t open. I was trying to figure it out at one point. I’m glad my doctor told the hospital to give me pretty much anything I asked for to control pain. Morphine was my best friend for most of the week I stayed. I finally got well enough to go home, which was my main goal, but I had to say good bye to morphine. It was a bitter trade. My pain was bad enough to keep using, but you can only get it in the hospital unless you’re in the end phase of cancer apparently.

I’m seeing the specialist that give me my antibiotics on Monday. I have to have to change out the picc line once a week and they’ll give me another weeks worth of antibiotics. They told me I’d get one of those temporary handicap parking tags too. I can’t drive anyway, but at least my daughter won’t have to drop me off, then go find a parking spot a 1/2 mile away too. My surgeon is supposed to get me a new prescription on the same day. They seemed concerned because apparently if you take a narcotic for too long the pharmacy police will come get me or something. Nevermind if there’s something obviously wrong with me or not. Hopefully they’ll either switch me to something else or I’ll get better before I run out of this prescription. Either way it’s disturbing that the government decides if you need a medication without even seeing the patient.

I don’t blame the surgeons or the hospital for any of these problems I’ve had. I know that sometimes shit just happens. The hospital’s entire staff always treated me with dignity and respect. I know that they really wanted to help me as much as they could. One of the night watch nurses told me it was probably because I was one of the nicest patients they’d ever dealt with. It must have been the morphine that was making me so friendly.

picc line

They did set me up with a picc line which is something I’d never heard of before. It’s like a catheter that goes in near your elbow, travels up that big vein in your arm stops just short of entering your heart. I had to sign a form saying that they’d explained how it goes in and I was still willing to do it. They also asked me a few questions to make sure I wasn’t too loopy to sign a contract. Anyway I now have to have an anti-biotic injected into my picc line every 8 hours for the next 6-8 weeks. I also have to use a walker to travel more than about 30 feet. I think the psychological trauma of going from a stronger than normal 46 year old man to being almost like a 2 year old in strength has hurt worse than the surgery itself. I’m just thankful for my family that has been taking care of me, especially my daughter. She wants to be an RN someday and it’s obvious that she’s got the right mix of compassion for the hurt, plus she’s not putting up with any bullshit from her whining dad. That’s a mix that should serve her well.

I also want to thank my wife for helping me bathe. It’s not as sexy as it sounds, but being clean helps me psychologically. She even shaved me. (I’m talking about my face pervs.) I almost felt human afterwards. I can’t do it on my own because of the big cut in my back that’s still healing.

nurse rubber duck

Anyway, thanks for giving me a chance to have some catharsis for the last couple of months. I’m still not sure I’ll ever be able to go back to my old job. I’m a machinist. At the very least I’ll be out for 6-8 weeks and even when I’m OK to go back to work I’ll be on light duty. If, God forbid, I’m considered too damaged to keep working my current job (which I actually enjoy) then I hope I can get into some kind of rehab training. I’ve thought about going back to school before, but I always used the excuse that I had to earn a living to take care of my family. Now most of my family takes care of themselves and I’ve got enough dough stuffed away in my 401k (assuming the commander in thief doesn’t steal it) to pay off my house and some other small bills. Maybe this is some kind of sign that I should start a new chapter in my life. I better do some serious prayer about this.

Sky Dancers October 23, 2014

Posted by Retired Geezer in Entertainment, Personal Experiences.

Nanjing Youth Olympic trailer, 500 people dancing in the sky.



Hat tip to Traveling Opi and Tula.

Zionists 1, Elmo 0 May 14, 2014

Posted by Sobek in Personal Experiences.

A pic I took last weekend in San Francisco:


I wish I had the full story here, but I don’t.  All I know is, when we first drove past, I said, “Look kids, it’s Elmo.”  Elmo was wearing his mask at the time.  A little while later, I walked past and overheard Elmo yelling about Israeli Apartheid against the Palestinians.  Elmo still had the mask on.  A few minutes after that, I walked out of the building and took this picture.

Conclusion: the Zionists took down Palestinian Elmo.

Preferences April 29, 2014

Posted by skinbad in Personal Experiences, Stupid shit.

So I had this conversation with a neighbor lady a couple of days ago:


Her: “I really like it dirty. It’s my favorite. There’s just nothing so good.”

Me: “I agree. Sometimes it’s more of a half this, half that thing, but dirty is the best.”

Her: “If you give me that once in a while, I’ll do whatever you need.”

Me: “OK. You know, someone told me fuzzy was better. I thought, ‘OK, I’ll try it.’ No way. It was kind of nasty. Stick with dirty.”

Her: “Oh, no. Not fuzzy. Don’t go there.”

At this point we both looked at each other and realized the conversation had taken a turn.

Anyone know what we were talking about? I’m wondering if it’s a local thing.


Tire Changing Excitement February 27, 2014

Posted by Retired Geezer in Gardening, Personal Experiences.

I thought I would generate some excitement with this tire-changing video.


The Crap Tree November 29, 2013

Posted by daveintexas in Personal Experiences.

[Note by Michael: It has become a tradition at Innocent Bystanders to annually republish the first-ever blog post by Dave in Texas during the Christmas season. Dave’s story has become a classic tale of Christmas cheer and the endurance of traditions. This is the original version, which actually predates the founding of Innocent Bystanders in 2006. Except I have greatly improved it by centering the pictures.]

Several years ago my wife conceived a plan to take over Christmas decorations in our home. She’s been very patient, moving so carefully that I only realized the scope of her plan this year. This fight isn’t over, not by a long shot. But I’ve lost a lot of ground.

I am what you would call a ‘Christmas kind of guy’. I love Christmas. I love the lights and the pretty packages, the wreaths, the greenery hanging everywhere. I like Christmas plates and coffee cups. Christmas cookies, Christmas music, Christmas towels in the bathrooms, Christmas napkins, Christmas movies and books, if they had Christmas toilet paper I would buy two cases (does anybody know if they make that?). I think Christmas lights on pickup trucks look terrific.


I really dig Christmas.

As soon as the clutter is cleaned away from the Thanksgiving feast, I’m up in the attic getting boxes down. I know where every one of them is, and I pretty much know what’s inside of them. Not because I pack them up every January (that always makes me sad). I suppose it’s just that we tend to use the same boxes for things. You could sum up my taste in Christmas decorations in one phrase. Colored lights. Yes, like the late Michael Kelly wrote on the topic of Christmas lights, there are white light people, and colored light people. I’m in the second group. Years ago I conceded the inevitability of teeny lights taking over. I gave up trying to find strings of lights with those big painted bulbs that burned your fingers. I miss them, but I understand. Technology changes things. But even if they’re teeny, I have to have colored lights. This theme extends to other decorations.


I have an affinity for Christmas-schlock. The cheesier the better. A dancing Santa Claus with an electric guitar and sunglasses? Oh yes. Strings of lights that look like jalapenos? Lovely. Elves laid out in a winter North Pole Office Party display, holding little cans of Bud Light while singing drunken Christmas tunes? I am so there. And you have guessed the dark secret of Christmas in our home. My wife is not a colored lights kind of person. She is a white lights gal. I don’t blame her, taste is subjective, right? Eye of the beholder and all that. We can coexist. We can cooperate, compromise, a little give here, a little take there. We’ll find a way to get along. You know, the Russkies and the Americans. Detente baby.


limited edition strat and twin reverb amp ornament

Well, I was wrong so I didn’t see it coming. It started with a new Christmas tree. She brought it home a few years ago. It’s bigger than our old tree. 10 feet. It’s frickin ginormous! Me, I’m all excited. What could be better than one Christmas tree? Two trees! Oh yeah, two sets of lights and ornaments and glitter, extra room for more presents. This will be so cool! I set the new tree up first. In the formal dining room, right there in the front window where everyone can see it. We decided the older tree would be just fine in the family room, we moved some things around and set it up there. Looked just fine. I didn’t even notice when my wife pulled the strings of white lights out that something was amiss. ‘Sure’, I thought, ‘woo… fan-cee’. What the heck. White lights on the new tree.

Then I noticed we had packages (really nice packages, you know, the kind of shopping bags you keep cause they’re so pretty?) with more ornaments in them. Impressive looking ornaments too, glass and crystal and gold. Wow. But hey, 10 foot tree, sure, we’ll need more stuff to put on it. It was when I reached into a box to pull out my favorite lights, the string of little Fender Telecasters, and headed for the new tree, that the plan in its entirety was revealed to me. She said ‘STOP right there!’ evenly spacing her words using a tone of voice that said I should seriously consider stopping right there. ‘There will be none of that on this tree’, she said. Same tone. I said what most husbands say when they are confronted with possible wrongdoing. ‘Wh-a-a-at?’ Real slowly, dumb-like. ‘No guitar lights. No old pictures. No jalapenos’ she said.


And she was deadly serious. She looked right at me and announced ‘this is the ‘nice tree’’.

The Nice Tree™. In the front room, prominently displayed in the big window. I looked around. The other decorations in the room began to make sense to me. The special Christmas china was set on the formal table. The expensive candle holders on the table by the entry, with long tapered white candles in them, you know, the kind you can’t get at Wal-Mart (10 for .55 cents). And then I understood. This room, was going to be ‘pretty’. Like a Christmas display at some expensive store on 5th Avenue, the ones whose names I can’t pronounce correctly. I looked at what was now my tree. Guitar lights. Ornaments from Fender. The decorations my kids made in Sunday school with funny shaped noodles and gold spray paint. Popsicle sticks and yarn and pictures. Hidden in the family room where no eye shall be offended. No one can see it.

I began calling my tree the “Crap Tree”.

The Nice Tree has gold swirly things on it, and a special tree skirt thingy made of silk and shiny stuff. It’s really pretty. It looks like something you would find in one of those stores in Salado. The Crap Tree has an old skirt made of something that looks like shag carpet. It has a pattern that sort of resembles a Christmas tree, at least, the way a Christmas tree looks to a myopic drunk. In a moment of weakness my brother in law crocheted it for us. It’s been more than 15 years and I still kick his ass about that.


easy to spot boxes

I am not allowed to put my special guitar ornaments on the Nice Tree. Who am I kidding? I’m not allowed to put anything on the Nice Tree. Every now and then, I sneak one on it when no one is looking. It doesn’t matter. My oldest daughter finds it and moves it back. At lease I’m not completely alone in my fight, my youngest daughter will take one of my ornaments and sneak it back on the nice tree. Occasionally sibling rivalry will overcome their natural tendency to gang up on you because of gender affiliation. Which is nice.

The Crap Tree has lights on it from The Hard Rock Café. I think those are my favorite, although the lights that look like jalapenos are a close second. Ever since my wife debuted the Nice Tree, Christmas in our house has been looking a little different. The living room is starting to spread out. Our old Frosty the Snowman and Christmas tree hand towels we used to put in the guest bathroom have been replaced with much prettier hand towels. None of us is allowed to touch them. You wash your hands in this bathroom, you better wipe them off on your blue jeans. My ‘singing Santa’ with the electric guitar and the sunglasses is now back in my bedroom on the dresser. The battery has been removed.

This year I couldn’t find the Drunken Office Party Elves. My wife says she has no idea what happened to them. She says it in a way that makes me think she knows exactly what happened to them, and I will never see them again.


Olive, the other reindeer

So I know what I’m up against. Soon, next year, or maybe the one after that, I will find myself engaged in a desperate battle, a last stand in front of my dearest Christmas decoration, the Crap Tree.

She may relent. The Crap Tree has ornaments that have all our Christmas memories on it, 22 years worth. Decorations we bought when we spent our first Christmas together. Things our friends gave to us. Decorations that her students gave to her. Special ornaments with years on them from Christmases past that go back before our kids were born. Pictures of the girls when they were little in red and white Christmas dresses, hugging Santa and telling him how good they had been this year. So long ago, before cars and boys and college. Every now and then I find a little bit of attic insulation in one of the branches, from a Christmas years ago when I slipped in the overhead and put my foot through the ceiling, right over the tree. The youngest looked up and said ‘Mommy, it’s Santa’! I think she was 4.

I love the Crap Tree. It is an old friend. It’s the decoration in our house that says “Christmas” to me, and I hope it always will.

Hey guess where this is?

A gift from the Geoffs. Proudly displayed.

Blanket Bingo August 11, 2013

Posted by Retired Geezer in Economics, Personal Experiences.

Feelgood story of the day:

Weirdest Christmas Morning Ever December 25, 2012

Posted by Michael in Personal Experiences.

All times approximate.

2:00 a.m.

There was a loud clap of thunder. The alarm system started shrieking all over the house, along with the siren outside. Peaches (dog) hates thunder and hid in the laundry room, which is her safe spot. I turned off the alarm, which is odd, because the system was not even armed. Thunder at exactly the right frequency can trigger the glass breakage detectors, but this shouldn’t happen if the system is disarmed.

2:20 a.m.

Doorbell rings. Two firemen in full gear are standing in the pouring rain at my front door, water dripping off their helmets. Big fire truck is in front of my house. The firemen had already looked for evidence of smoke or fire, and could find none. Really good response time, in my opinion. I tell them everything is OK and wish them a Merry Christmas.

Have you ever considered what a remarkably complex and expensive machine a fire truck is? However, they do have a Christmas-like appearance, especially when all the lights are flashing.


5:00 a.m.

Alarm company called and woke me up, wanted to know if everything was OK. I said yes. I also observed that this was not a false alarm caused by me, there was no heat or smoke, and I should not get dinged by the city with a fee. If anything, they should have sent the police. She said she will report this to her supervisor.

5:30 a.m.

Couldn’t sleep, so I decided to make potato bread. In the process, I noticed that refrigerator shelves needed to be wiped down. While wiping down the shelves, I noticed that some bacon was getting a little mold on the edge, so I cooked the bacon.

7:00 a.m.

Peaches is still hiding in the laundry room, but this house is now going to smell great for Christmas, and my refrigerator looks good. And you can’t beat a grilled bacon, egg and cheese sammich on potato bread while you watch a bowl game. All because of thunder.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all!

Random Kindness at Walmart December 22, 2012

Posted by digitalbrownshirt in Personal Experiences.

My wife has an overnight job as the main cashier at a local Walmart. Early this morning a lady came in with with six crisp $100 bills in her hand. She used them to buy six gift cards worth $100 each then left. During the next 30 minutes Sandra (Mrs. DBS) had six customers come up and tell her that a lady had given them gift cards and a “Merry Christmas” while they were shopping in the store. They were shocked to find out that the cards really were worth $100 each.  Sandra knows most of her regular customers. $100 is huge deal to many of them at this time of year.

Anyway, I thought it was a neat story.

Hot Tub Nirvana for $100 (Re-Post, Not The Crap Tree, But ‘Tis the Season) December 21, 2012

Posted by skinbad in Family, Gardening, Personal Experiences, Sex.

I can’t do better than the actual title. The other night, after some bloggy reading about “worst Christmas presents ever,” I asked Mrs. Skinny what my biggest Christmas failure was.  She’s polite and demurred. But I convinced her to lay it on me.

Here is the graphical representation:


To address your question, the answer is “No. I did not have Lauraw crate Dave in Texas and ship him to my wife 13 years ago.” If you care for the back story, I’ll continue it below.


Samantha the Sheepdog Encounters Snow for the First Time December 9, 2012

Posted by wintersetruss in Man Laws, Nature Shit, Personal Experiences.
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Mo' Money (in pajamas) takes Samantha out to play in snow

Mo’ Money (in pajamas) takes Samantha out to play in snow


  We woke up this morning to a surprise – SNOW!  Thank God I got my deer last weekend before the weather turned.


  Moses got out of bed, threw on his coat & shoes, and took our 4-month old Great Pyrenees sheepdog puppy out to enjoy her first snow expeerience.


  Last time I joked about how Sam is going to catch Moses in size.  As of a week ago last thursday, the score was Moses 43 pounds, Samantha 33 pounds (up 8 pounds in 3 weeks).  I told him that he’d better start doubling up on biscuits & gravy if he wants to stay ahead of the eating monster who lives in our house now.  Yesterday I took Moses AND Samantha to Des Moines to do some early Christmas shopping while Mommy worked on some projects.  On the way home, Mo said “I think we should start calling Sam “Fuzzball” Daddy”.  I told him that he should call her that when she does something she’s not supposed to do.  Sort of like how Mommy uses his first, middle AND last names when he’s in trouble.

slice of life November 26, 2012

Posted by digitalbrownshirt in Crime, Family, Personal Experiences, Stupid shit, WTF?.

I came home from lunch Sunday and found my youngest son wearing a pair of these:

Youngest son: “Dad, check these out!”

Me: “Um, what are they?” (in my head, it sounded like WTF?)

Oldest son: “His gay shoes.”

Mom: “Hush!”

Youngest son: “They’re for running.”

Me, after a pause: “Like outside? You wear them in public?”

Youngest son: “Yeah, they’re good for circulation.”

He’s a diabetic, so circulation’s a big deal, but I kind of felt like he checkmated me with the circulation comment, because I was ready to give him a bad time on the goofy shoes. Apparently they’re kind of a big deal, but I’d never heard of them before yesterday.

I feel like I get older everytime I talk to that kid.