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Larry’s dad

Larry’s dad died the other night. There are a lot of very heavy things running through my head about that. First, Larry’s dad died. And I feel bad for Larry and his whole family. I mean, if anyone could deal with a situation, it would be Larry; I think if he lost three limbs from a freak case of gangrene, he would still be riding around on his motorcycle a week later using a broomstick and some duct tape to shift gears, as if nothing happened. The dude has seriously seen Papillion far too many times to really be affected by anything short of a close nuclear strike. But I do feel bad for the rest of his family. And while a lot of us seem to be either dealing with or avoiding our parental units, it seems that Larry had a genuinely decent relationship with his old man, and that makes the whole thing a damn shame. So my thoughts and condolences go out to the whole Falli clan.

To a lesser extent, the whole death thing really fucks with me. As an atheist, I don’t believe in many of the stock things you’re supposed to say at this time, and I really feel like a vegan at a hog roast. In some way, death doesn’t bother me, but it bothers me that I can feel that way when others are truly affected. And others have mentioned that they thought at some point later in life, I would have a schizoid episode and the grief of 40 years’ worth of funerals would all hit me at once, and maybe that’s true. I don’t really know.

There’s also the issue that I have a dad the same age as Larry’s, and he’s not exactly running triathalons these days, and sooner or later, I’m going to get the same phone call in the middle of the night. And that used to be an abstract concept, but now it really fucks with me. Even more, I am 23 years younger than my dad, and my doctors are bitching about my blood pressure and cholesterol, and the whole thing makes me think I should eat nothing but wheat germ and vegetable shakes and buy a treadmill and put it in front of my computer, because seriously, I’m going to snap my fingers twice and I’ll be 60. Fuck.

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I went to the doctor yesterday. My foot got all better after predisone, and after a ten-day course, I stopped, and then the foot got worse and once again looked like a canned ham with toes. I went in and they decided to give me a cortisone injection in my ankle joint. This involved first giving me a couple of shots of lidocaine, and then pulling out some fluid, and then the actual injection. Because I go to a residence clinic, this meant the tiny exam room was filled with my doctor (a resident), an attending, a med student, and a nurse, plus a big old cart of supplies. I had to sign a waiver before they could give me the shot. The med student asked me a barrage of stupid questions that weren’t entirely stupid, but made me think she read about five paragraphs about gout in college and now for the first time had a real live case on the table. So yeah, the “do you eat shellfish” stuff was annoying, but maybe that helps in the long run, and she won’t misdiagnose her first real gout case in the wild, like 80% of the docs who have stared at my feet in the last decade.

When I’ve had the same procedure done in my toe or my knee, it was by a solo orth surgeon or podiatrist, and the banter consisted of nothing but “okay, here we go”, followed by many jabs of needles. This time, there was a whole mini-lecture of shop talk, with the attending saying “you want to go in shallow into the meta-subcarpal-lingual-inner-whatever and then turn to the left”, which was weird. The injection itself was not bad, at least not as bad as the inter-joint toe injections I had before – I was pretty much confessing to war crimes I didn’t do during that one. But any injection that first requires other injections is not that fun. This time, they used one needle apparatus and multiple syringes for the draw and the shot, which means I only had one hole in my ankle. It also meant I looked down and saw this giant piece of hardware stuck in my ankle for no reason.

I think the oddest thing is that when he was pushing fluid into the joint space and sort of jockeying around my ankle to get more in there, I had this really intense sensory memory experience. The injection, or the way he was pushing, felt entirely like one of the large-bore intramuscular allergy shots I used to get in my arm. And for a split second, it was like I somehow mind-melded with some ancient memory of being in the Elkhart Clinic in 1980. In that millisecond, I remembered all of these distant facts of the place – the hospital smell of the air, the bell in the elevator, that paging bing-bong sound in the office, the chairs, the cotton alcohol rub, the downstairs lobby waiting room. It was all so strange that all of that hit me at once, as if I touched an alien obelisk and was suddenly infused with the knowledge of another planet’s cultural secrets. I always thought smell was my strongest sense, but having my inner cells pushed around by a few moments by a liquid infusion seemed to trump that.

Anyway, the shot did good, although it was not as magic as I would have liked. I also got two prescriptions to try, and I am now on colchicine, and hoping it won’t make me shit my pants in the near future. I also got my blood tested – see previous discussion on cholesterol. I know I have high cholesterol. I know I can’t radically modify my diet without becoming a basket case. I know I could not have any of these problems if I ran five miles a day. I can’t do a treadmill on crutches. So there.

I think I’m starting another blog of technical stuff. I always run into a problem when I’m coding or writing and spend half the day researching it, and then find the stupid answer, and six months later, I’ve forgotten and need to start all over again. So I should be writing these down. And since 90% of the ruby on rails docs I find are consultants who do just this in an effort to scare up work, maybe I should do the same.

Okay, busy day. Gotta get on it.

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The death of HST

I just finished snaking out my tub drain with an $8 auger I bought at the National Wholesale Fernandez store next to work. (It is so nicknamed after a coworker who has far too strange of an attraction to the place, buying made-in-China snack food by the cubic ton.) I extracted a good five years’ worth of male pattern baldness in a greasy, black, slimy turd hanging off the end of the corkscrew tip of the low-tech endoscopy tool. I hope this means my shower will drain in under an hour from now on, but I’m expecting many repeat performances, so I’m glad I finally made the investment.

Speaking of roto-rootering, I just ate an immensely hot Indian meal from the local delivery joint. They are pretty bipolar as far as how they spice the food. Sometimes, the vindaloo is about as spicy as a mean cinnamon applesauce, and other times, it’s eternal damnation to a weekend on the throne, after you drink a gallon of milk to kill off the burning in your mouth. I never ate Indian food at all before I got to New York, except for maybe Simms’ experiments from cookbooks. For whatever reason, Bloomington had no Indian restaurants when I was in school, and I don’t even know why I never found any in Seattle. It’s possible that my whole digestive malady during those years, plus my white-bread childhood, made me avoid anything spicy. Now, I actually like the stuff.

I should probably write something about the fact that Hunter S. Thompson killed himself on Sunday. It was weird to hear about that, although I agree with the concensus that he’s probably overdue by about 30 years, with all of the shit he’s pulled in his lifetime. It’s strange, because HST is in many ways a huge influence on the work I’ve done and the path I chose with some of my fiction, but I didn’t choose to do the kind of journalism he did. And while he had a couple of really great books and some pretty good moments in his articles, his body of work is also pretty small when you discount the volumes that are nothing but reprints of his articles and letters. And there’s Rum Diary, which was a great book, but totally not his style. Compare that to someone like Burroughs or Kerouac or Steinbeck, and it makes you wonder what the role of media stuntman really leaves behind. Years from now, only the Johnny Depp caricature of the man will remain, and nobody will remember his interaction with the media regulars, the politicans, or the sport coaches. All that will be left will be a few books that don’t entirely add up to the life he lived.

I’m sad to see him go, but if he had his reasons, it’s his life. I mean, the rumor is that he was having health problems, with a broken leg, some hip and back surgeries, and a lot of time with his ass in a chair. Maybe it got worse, maybe a doctor told him he’d never walk again or he’d need another painful surgery or seven. I don’t know why he put the .45 through his head, but if he felt he didn’t have another ten volumes of investigative journalism ahead of him or twenty years of twilight in a wheelchair and didn’t want to live a life of shitting and pissing into plastic tubes in a hospital bed, well that’s his game.

The livejournal group for HST has other thoughts on the matter, and they’ve spent the last few days whining the most inane babble about Thompson’s death. Most of it goes like this: “D00D, I’VE BEEN READING HUNTER FOREVER, SINCE LIKE 2003 AT LEAST, AND I DID MY SENIOR PAPER ON HIM, AND OH MAN, WHAT A LOSS OF A VOICE FOR OUR GENERATION! I MEAN, FUCK CHIMPY BUSH AND AMERIKKKA AND NOW WE DON’T HAVE DOCTOR GONZO TO HELP US. OH DUDE, PASS THE BONG MAN. HERE’S A 47-PAGE TONE POEM I WROTE THE OTHER NIGHT AT THE SKATE PARK ABOUT HOW I FEEL ABOUT LOSING THE GREATEST MIND SINCE THAT NIRVANA DUDE.” Basically that, about 478 times a day. I should unsubscribe.

I ordered another laptop bag. I think I’ve bought three since Christmas. I can’t find one that fits right and holds the laptop and feels comfortable. I have this Ogio one on the way, and it looks a little bit better. I had a Trager bag that was perfect, but after about a million miles and four years, every strap and zipper and buckle was broken or fucked, and I gave up on it. I think Toshiba makes some “solutions” for carrying the damn computer, but that basically means they got some cheapo company in Korea to make Jansport bag knockups they could price up at four times their value. Meanwhile, my 15-year-old IU backpack is holding up fine. Too bad it doesn’t hold my laptop.

OK, the new Wired is here, so I have to go read that and make fun of every other page.

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TD

I got a voice mail from Simms last week, when I stepped away from the desk for a second. Tom Donohue died, he said. Tom was a really great guy who worked at a used CD store back in Bloomington, and eventually opened up his own place. Most used CD places in town are just out to rip off students coming in and going out, but he always seemed to give everyone the “friend” rate. He would talk to you about whatever music you were into, if it was the Flaming Lips or the Beatles or Cannibal Corpse or anything else, and he’d know weird trivia or obscure releases better than you would. He always kept aside weird Death Metal when I was into it, and then cheap Zappa stuff when I was into that. He also did a lot with WQAX and WFHB, and sponsored a lot of local bands. He was a class act indeed.

You know, I even mentioned Tom in Summer Rain, because back in the day, I was in his shop constantly. I went in there last August when I was in town for a split second to have lunch with Alana, and I ducked in and said hi. It was good to see him, and now I’m glad I did catch up with him. Anyway, here‘s another tribute to him, courtesy of the IDS.