Another Concert Review

My daughter had her 6th grade musical production tonight: “The X-mas Files”, complete with an x-files script and some enjoyable holiday songs. I’ve certainly attended worse, and the vast majority of the kids performing were good sports about the whole thing, and about 15% really seemed to be enjoying themselves. Two things were obvious from watching them, however: one is that the teen ‘I’m so bored by everything’ attitude is coming, and that one kid there obviously saw this as punishment for something he didn’t deserve. It was worth the price of admission to see an adolescent boy doing his best to look bored and put-upon while in the front row, center stage, of a musical chorus. Wearing a brightly colored shirt. It was so amusing that the three adults in our car all mentioned watching the same kid. Funny how we were all drawn to observe the one who wasn’t having a good time, while surrounded by a stage full of kids who were.

And if you get a chance to see “The X-mas Files by a bunch of 6th graders, it’s a terrific 25 minutes.

Flashing Lights

For the last few days we’ve been having some flickering lights; always the same ones, but at differing times of the day. This morning, half the house was electrically dead. Checked all the circuit breakers (and cycled quite a few on the affected circuits) without relief. While doing this, the fuse box made an amusing noise (sort of a crackle) and the lights in the garage (where I and the fuse box were) went out, as well.

Called the home warranty people, and after 5 minutes of giving info to a home-warranty computer (which has very accurate voice recognition, I must say), I held for 10 minutes to repeat virtually all the same info to a person, who was efficient. Electrician called within 2 hours, and we discussed possible etiologies, but no diagnosis was obvious to him except that ‘something’s loose’ . Apparently, I could be an electrician, as I knew that, too. He’s coming tomorrow.

The lights went out again about 30 minutes ago, and in a fit of brilliance I ‘adjusted’ the cover of the fuse box with my fist (dad’s a mechanic, says he spent his life whapping things; I’m a chip off the old whapping block) and the lights came right on, and haven’t flickered since. So, now I know where the problem lies, but I’m too chicken to take the cover off the fuse box and tighten things myself.

Update: lights are out, again. Hmmm. Computer working on an extension cord.

Concert Review

Well, ok, not really a review. My last concert attendance was in 1983 (Hall & Oates), so I’m not qualified to give a full-on, blow by blow accounting of tonight’s entertainment, picked by the wife. We’ve been married nearly 13 years, and she’s told me she really wanted 2 things in all that time; a new pickup last year (which she picked out and got), and to see Cher in concert. So, we went.

Cindi Lauper was the opener, and she can still sing quite well, and performed a nice mix of old favorites and new tunes. She spoke for several minutes, but her accent, voice pitch, and our nosebleed seats made it nearly impossible to understand her. Nobody near me understood her, either. I hope she wasn’t giving winning lottery numbers. Nosebleed seats, indeed; there were rows above ours, but sherpas would carry your drinks and popcorn for you, so we were glad ours were as low as they were.

Cher was terrific, with a great entrance and some really unusual costuming; not the sort of thing you see except on stage, or in music videos (by Cher). And she still sings so well without putting a lot of effort into it, I wonder what she’d do if she really thought about it. Or she just really makes it look and sound easy. By contrast, Cher’s speech was very easily understandable, and everything she said was heard; her (irony-laced) statement that she was “…every gay mans’ best friend…” was truly enjoyed by a significant percentage of the crowd (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

MapQuest gets a C- by the way; their directions had us drive right past 3 exits to the place in order to go literally 150 feet on a tollway, just to double back to where we were. Next time we’ll know better.

A good time was had by all. Another 19 years, another concert review. Promise.

Linked Again!

Yesterday it was MedPundit, and today it’s Feces Flinging Monkey! I know from the hits that people read this, but really figured it was my mom reading about 300 times a day. Now I know better, and mom, you have company!

Really, these other blogs post more frequently and are terrific reading, if with different outlooks. And, FFM likes my birdstrike photos! Neat.

My name in print….

End of Life

The CNN lede is “Report: U.S. is uncaring place to die“, pointing out that about 1/2 of deaths occur in hospitals, despite “…70 percent of Americans (saying) they would like to die at home”. This is a press release from an organization called “Last Acts“, ‘A National coalition to improve care and caring near the end of life’.

Disclaimer: I personally know nothing about this organization, and do not endorse them specifically; I lack the time or interest to investigate them. If they wind up supporting communism, or moon colonies, or anything else not expressly described in their title and subtitle, I’m not for it. Also, the “1/2 of all deaths occur in hospital” number seems a little suspect to me; a tremendous number of people wake up dead and are transported to the ED to be Pronounced Dead, therefore ‘dying on arrival’ at the hospital. There is an entire exposition in that, and that’s not my point today.

However, what this brings up is an point that comes up a lot more often in my practice of emergency medicine than I’d like: What does Grandma want? I ask this question often, when family members accompany very ill people to my ED, and I ask them, usally like this: “I don’t think this is going to happen in the next 30 minutes, but, if your Grandma’s heart were to stop, or she stops breathing, what does she want?” One time out of 10, they tell me exactly what Granny wanted, and I have the answer; whether I agree or not isn’t the issue (another exposition), but I know what their desires are. (I ask the patients, if they’re well enough, and a surprising number tell me to make them comfortable but to perform no heroics). I do not really care about the “Notarized, Original, Dated Form”; what I want to know is, what did she want, and does everyone know it. The form is only useful when the family disagrees.

What never ceases to amaze me are the number of cases where I am, clearly, the very first to bring this issue up with the family, or the patient. This often occurs on readmission to the hospital after a lengthy, often obvoiusly terminal illness, often from a nursing home or rehabilitation facility, meaning that at least one person (the nursing home admissions person), and hopefully two (above, plus the patients’ physician). I do not discount that people don’t hear what they don’t want to hear, but I feel this isn’t the case.

This is why, recently, we’ve had a lot of dinner-table discussions about end of life matters. Now we have it settled, and I feel better about it. It’s also why we don’t have a lot of dinner guests.

Talk to your loved ones. You never know when it’ll come up.

Update: Medpundit has, as usual, a more eloquent take.

Martyrdom

I’ve been reading about all the ‘martyrs’ who kill themselves for, well………….whatever. That there are people willling to kill themselves to murder others is only slightly less worse than those who incite these morons to do it.

As I don’t want to be one who whines about a problem without also giving a solution, here’s my first try at a Public Service Announcement. I picked up this phrase from (I think) the comments section of a terrific blog, Little Green Footballs.

Martyrdom is bad for your Health

The Wait is Over!

Well, you can finally stop calling and writing, the pit pictures are now ready to be viewed.

To recap, Dad looked at the service pit covers as they existed on moving in, and said “I can do better”. These pictures prove him right.

Follow the link to Sony Imagestation, where the pictures live.

Please note, it wants you perform a free registration; use an e-mail address you don’t want spammed (or use mine, Allen@gruntdoc.com).

I’m interested in your comments, mostly pro, the occasional con.

Test

If this posting screws up (and it probably will), I’m moving over to MoveableType.

PS: I’m sure the BlogerPro team is sobbing hysterically

Update: it worked flawlessly. I’m still thinking about moving. Really.

Top 10 Air Force Complaints

Some Marine Corps jokesters are circulating a Top 10 list for Bagram air base in Afghanistan on how to make living conditions better in the combat zone. The list comes in response to an article in The Washington Times. It told of photographs produced by two Air Force sergeants on the austere base: long chow lines, dusty roads, few recreational facilities and rationed bottled water. The Air Force declined to comment. A spokesman for U.S. Central Command, which runs the war in Afghanistan, said conditions are improving weekly.

Here is the Marines’ list: “TOP 10 AIR FORCE COMPLAINTS OVERHEARD AT BAGRAM AIRBASE:

10: Toilet seats aren’t the puffy kind.
9: Vichyssoise made with Idaho potatoes instead of russet.
8: Poor quality carpet padding used in offices.
7: Air conditioners only rated at 600 BTUs.
6: Showtime, not HBO.
5: BDUs [battle dress uniforms] make airmen look fat.
4: No wine list at dining facility.
3: How come the Army guys get those nice berets?
2: Must those jets be so loud?
1: Hey, that guy in the turban is trying to kill me!

Bird Strike

I don’t know how these pictures got out, but they’re a terrific demonstration of what a bird strike can do to an aircraft. They’re from NAS Kingsville, where young Naval Aviators learn to fly props and rotors. The aircraft struck is a T-44A, know to the rest of the world as a King Air, a nice big twin turboprop. I do not know the bird type. Most folks cannot believe birds can do a lot of damage to aircraft, but these pictures tell a different tale. In fact, a B1 ‘Lancer’ bomber was brought down by striking a large bird going very fast; the bird went into the wing, ruptured a fuel line, and the plane went down.

There are 5 pictures, one demonstrating the type of aircraft, and four showing the results of the strike:

USN T44feet and feathersfeet and tail featherstail catches birdneed a lot of Bondo

BloggerPro problems

I use a tool called BloggerPro to publish this weblog. I use it because it was cheap, and easy to use, and promised a lot for not much.

In the last few days (when I could communicate with it), it has been acting up badly, failing to publish data, several times wiping out the entire blog. It’s enought to make me want to migrate the whole thing over to MS FrontPage. At least then errors are mine. Or MicroSofts’.

Smores and Voting

I just had a “smore”, which is chocolate and marshmallow melted together between graham crackers (write me for the recipe). It is instant hyperactivity on crackers, and I’m having trouble concentrating to type.

Tarrant County, where I reside and vote, went to a pseudo-computerized voting system (cards completed with a magic marker and counted electronically). I thought the ballot was very easily understood, and the scoring was done on the spot, by feeding the ballot into the counter as I turned it in, which then stored it in a locked box. Pretty slick, and should make ballot counting painless. Unless it doesn’t work, which happened. Now, according to local TV news, there was a glitch in the computer program that totaled the votes, so they’re awaiting the arrival of all the paper ballots, and then they’re going to count the 225,000+ ballots again, on a ‘special’ machine, there at the county courthouse. So, no election results until tomorrow from Ft. Worth.

An interesting article on why paper ballots (like we have here, being recounted) are the way to go. via InstaPundit.

The Pit

The home we moved into a few months ago has a service pit in the garage. It’s pretty cool having it, although it hasn’t been used much. One of the reasons it hasn’t been used was a non-user-friendly way to put vehicles over the pit. The original version had two very large, long rectangular sliding ‘trays’ that were normally closed, and when you wanted to use the pit you’d muscle the trays apart the desired amount and drive up on them; this was somewhat more difficult as the trays were about 2 inches above floor level.

My dad looked at that design for about 5 seconds and you could just see the thought racing around in his head, “I could do it better”. What followed was about a month’s planning, metal prefabrication, etc., culminating in he and I spending the last three days renovating the design. Now the driving surface is floor level, and three subgrade sliding covers, on longitudinal tracks, cover the pit. I’ve already had my car on it, and it was very solid and stable. And cool, too!. Pictures to follow, when they come back from the developers.

It also reminded me that my dad is the hardest working man I’ve ever known. More than a quarter-century older than me, it was all I could do to keep up. It was good to see mom, too, but the whole of the days were spent working in the pit.

Now all I need is a project that requires a service pit. Perhaps……………..

I’m back

Of course, I never left, but the satellite connection to the world went down. Today, fifteen days after the connection went down, a nice service person arrived, and about 3 hours and one defective LNB replacement later, I’m back on. He says the transmitter wasn’t grounded, and hints that may be why the LNB died.

The good news is that my connection is faster; not enough faster to make me stop wishing for “DSL in my area”, but better.

Satellite’s Down

Well, the satellite itself is still in space, just my uplink to it is dead. Kaput. 3 hours on tech support, metering things, taking things apart, didn’t work. I’m now waiting for a “third level” person to contact me, to schedule a site visit to replace things (probably the feed horn).

This is being sent from a borrowed connection; I’ll let you know here when the service is back up.