Courtesy call

April 20, 2012

This morning, after taking Mikey for his walk and while having a half-cafe cup of coffee,  I received a telephone call. The caller id indicated that it was the “U.S. Government” calling. Immediately, I thought,” Oh, crap, I did get the urine and the tax return envelopes mixed up. It’s the IRS.”

I picked up the phone and in my best,  most solid citizen, tax paying voice  said, “Hello.”

The voice on the other end was barely intelligible. It sounded like the person was drunk or too lazy to move his lips when he asked, ” Is Ta there?” At least I think he said “Is Ta there?” But I can’t be certain.

After a moment of silence and a mountain of relief that it was not the IRS, I said, ” Sorry, you must have the wrong number.”

At that the caller, without another utterance,  abruptly hung up.

Now that got me a little bit annoyed. Here I was minding my own business, having coffee , reading the paper when this lazy, rude individual electronically invades my home and interrupts my domestic tranquility without even an excuse me or I am sorry.

I was just settling back down when the phone rang again. Same number calling.

Ah, I thought, he is calling back to apologize.

I picked up the phone and gave my usual cheerful greeting. This time the boorish lout did not even ask for Ta. He just hung up.

It seems to me that this sort of behavior indicates an extreme lack of correct breeding.

What do you think?


Wasted weekend

April 17, 2012

One of the post kidney stone procedures is the 24 hour urine collection. It is not as disgusting as it sounds and is sometimes helpful in determining what might cause the development of kidney stones.

Basically, you get a jug in the mail and the over a period of 24 hours you must pee into it. At the end of the time you take a sample from the jug and discard the rest. Normal adult fluid output is anywhere from 1.5 to 2.5 liters per day.

You then get to send the sample to the lab for chemical analysis to see what in your urine might be causing the development of the stones.

Well, Dr. Pugil requested that I participate in such a procedure, so over the weekend, I peed in the jug.

To pass the time while doing this, I started thinking about global pee volume.  You know, with over 7 billion**  humans in the world, as a species we probably generate between 3.5 and 3.9 billion gallons of pee a day. Add all the elephants, cows, monkeys etc. in the world, and soon you are talking some real output.

Where does it all go?

In spite of all this fun with numbers, the weekend did not get any more pleasant,  as it was during this time that I completed my Federal income tax return while watching the story of the GSA party people spending wasting over $800,000 of taxpayer money on that obscenely stupid and grossly unnecessary conference of theirs.

Yesterday, I mailed off my tax return and my urine specimin…and now I can’t remember if I got the envelopes mixed up.

I guess it really does not matter.


** I originally had 6 billion people, however, Dr. Zorro pointed out that I was a smidge shy in my estimate. After referring to the UN’s world population website, I adjusted my figures. I will not however change this anymore. I simply can not keep up with all these new people.

Beth and the big cheese

April 16, 2012

In my opinion, one of the worst trends in the country is the introduction of these gigantic big box grocery stores. Where once a small local supermarket existed for many years, now stands a three-story, 100,000 square foot monster of mercantile with more than 50,000 items for sale. I have come to dislike these big money machines so much that I nearly break out in hives whenever I have to go to one.

I need to point out that it is rarely my idea to visit these stores.

I much prefer the small, manageable size grocery store like the one I frequent. Since I usually only get 8 or  10 items per visit, I don’t need to ponder over 50,000 items just to figure out what I want for dinner. I mean what kind of culture are we that needs 24 different types of tuna fish or 18 different kinds of toothpaste. It is just so much waste and overkill.

I also like the small store for their customer friendly staff. For example, I always spend time with Dan,  the butcher. Not only does he provide me with excellent cuts of meat at the best price he can, we often swap recipes and cooking techniques. I find it incredible that just 6 percent of Americans actually talk to their butcher or meat purveyor, while 100 percent talk to their hairdresser. It seems to me that you might want to know something about the person that is preparing food that you will put into your body  rather than someone who cuts your hair.

Maybe I feel this way because I don’t have that much hair.

Anyway, Dan often  tells me about his fishing trip plans for the weekend. I tell him about my back pain. It is a very authentic and civil relationship. There is nothing sterile, plastic wrapped  about it.

Then there is Beth, the cheesemonger. Having just become an aunt for the first time she tells me about her new niece while we enjoy a sampling of a new Roquefort she just opened up.

Last week, she got a giant wheel of cheese in from Switzerland. She was trying to decide how to cut it up when she invited me in to the back room to see it. The wheel was a monster about 4 feet in diameter and a foot thick. Switzerland is a little country, but man they can make some big cheese.

While I was fascinated with the size of the big cheese, Beth and a couple of assistants proceeded to turn it on its edge. It stood like the tire of some giant earth moving machine. Beth, at about 100 pounds soaking wet, with her cheese cutting wire proceeded to cut through the massive 200 lb wheel releasing a most fabulous aroma which filled the room. As the team started to dissect the cheese into more marketable pieces, I thanked Beth for the opportunity to share the experience and took my leave.

You just don’t get to see people cut the cheese in those big impersonal stores!

Well, the watchful waiting is over. In fact it has been over for quite some time. Early in March it was confirmed that beyond any reasonable doubt I had a case of the shingles and a kidney stone the size of Rhode Island in my left kidney. Actually, it was ONLY 1.2 centimeters, it just felt like Rhode Island, or maybe Texas.

It was determined, by my urologist, Dr. Pugil that an ESWL procedure needed to be performed to break up the stone so it could pass. ESWL or Lithotripsy, is a German invention which uses sonic waves to blast the calcified stone into fragments.

When Dr. Zorro heard that this was being done to me, he said, ” you know breaking rocks up always reminds me of that Three Stooges episode with the stooges in their Sing Sing prison outfits smashing rocks over each other.”

Great, I hope Dr. Pugil did not see the Three Stooges.

Apparent he did not as he blasted my stone 3000 times in 40 minutes with that sonic gun. Shattering it in a 100 pieces so I could “pass” it easily.

So now, I am on the rocky road to recovery. The stone is gone and the shingles are abated.

Just as I was starting to feel good, when I picked up a case of poison ivy.

I think I got it from Mikey.

Et tu, Mikey.