Monday, April 21, 2008

What a difference an 'S' makes

So I get a call from my doctor's office telling me they are referring me to an orthopedic surgeon to take a look at my knee. They give me the time and date of the appointment, tell me I need to pick up the MRI films from the VA hospital to take to the doctor, and the address of his office. The office is located at 488 St. Lukes Drive in Montgomery.

I head off to my favorite mapping site, Google Maps, and enter the address. Only problem is that I entered it as St. Luke Drive. The results it gave me is this map. At first I noticed that the location is on the route that I use when I go to Maxwell AFB from the Gunter Annex. I didn't remember seeing a hospital or doctor office on the drive so I zoomed in. Much to my dismay, it was pointing me to the middle of the cemetery where Hank Williams is buried. Not that I would have any problem visiting a cemetery, especially one with a famous resident, but I don't think that a tear to my mid medial meniscus is fatal.

Anyway, I added an 'S' on the end of Luke and tried again. This time it wants to send me to an area just across from Baptist Medical Center East. I think this is a better place to look for a doctor, don't you?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Hey y'all, watch this !!!

I'm sure many of you have heard the following joke...

Q: What was the last thing the redneck said before he died?
A: Hey y'all, watch this!!

Anyway, I actually found my self in the middle of one of those moments this evening. My neighbor (who doesn't actually live here, but lets his brother live in the house) has a collection of rusting things in his back yard. One of those thing is an old electric golf cart. The people working to repair the damage caused by the tornado decided it was time to clean most of this stuff out; before he came back to town and noticed his stuff was gone.

They backed the truck into the backyard, connected a chain to the golf cart and dragged it (none of the wheels were round anymore) out to the driveway. As we are standing there trying to figure out how to get the cart into the back of the truck, one of them thought that flipping it end over end would be a good idea. Who was I to argue...."Hey y'all, watch this!!" started running over and over in my head. That should have been my first clue. We pushed up the front end of the cart until the four of us had it up high enough to get into the back of the truck. Unfortunately, it was pointed the wrong way. One of the guys said that if the truck were pulled up, we could try to get the front end in first. "HEY Y'ALL, WATCH THIS!!!" It was getting louder, but I still ignored the voice.

The guy who drove the truck let go and headed for the cab. Now I did a little math. If it takes four men to life the front end of this cart, and one lets go...I'll let you finish the equation. The cart started to gain momentum until all of us finally let go and let it drop the last couple of feet. It missed everyone's toes and we all just looked at each other with that, OOPS look.

At least I survived my first, and hopefully last, "Hey y'all, watch this" experience.

The importance of thumbs

So, I'm out in the backyard shortening some plastic pipes with my trusty box saw. Just working on a project to make things fit in the house we just bought. I'm cutting the last piece when suddenly the saw jumps out of the little groove and lands on the end of my right thumb.

I get it cleaned up, get authorization from our insurance to visit the local urgent care clinic and get it all fixed up nice and pretty. While I'm sitting at the clinic I have a sudden realization. . .

That is what I use to mash the 'X' button on my PS2 controller!!! I guess I have to give the video games a rest for a few days. Oh well, at least I will still have a thumb to mash buttons with when the healing is over.

On the way home from the clinic, my wife said something about never letting me turn on my new power compound mitre saw. Might be a good idea if I want to keep my thumb attached.

Helping others

Yesterday my family and I participated in a community-wide event called Caravan of Hope. This event offers assistance to anyone who comes to the event. There were doctors and dentists giving free checkups, barbers and stylists giving free haircuts, games and fun for the kids, a free meal, free groceries (including turkeys), and most importantly prayer and spiritual support. The planners expected about 5000 people to come through, but the final count was over 9400 guests with more than 600 decisions to follow Christ. It was a long day, but a rewarding one. Getting out and helping people face-to-face means so much more than sending a check somewhere.

Give it a try, you just might like it.

Back in the USSA

We finally made the trip across the ocean to return to the US of A. What an interesting trip. The computer on the airplane lost the flight plan so the crew had to rebuild it before we could leave. That and loading delays got us out of the gate almost an hour late.

The flight was smooth, plenty of food and watchable movies, but it was the time after the landing that was the icing on the cake. They parked at the gate furthest from the terminal. We got through the first passport check, collected our luggage and got in line for customs. They just put a big A on our customs form (we are carrying cats) and sent us to another line.

We waited there for a while before they realized that we only had cats. We also watched a bunch of kids leave the line when they discovered they had all checked the box for visiting a farm (but never walked through manure) and didn't need to be in that line. We went to a line with no one in it and checked in the cats. Then the agent asked if we had brought any food for them so we showed him the bag of food we brought. Since we didn't have the original bag he wanted to take all of it, but he finally agreed to leave them a few days worth of food. Good thing since it is prescription food that you can't buy at stores.

The next corner we came around had someone telling us that we needed to put our checked luggage through a second screening and they would send it to the domestic baggage claim. Then go through another x-ray screening. This time we had to take the cats out of their bags and carry them through the metal detectors. We finally caught up with our luggage, the second time to find out that the capitalist society we live in doesn't believe in free luggage carts (first thing to miss about Brussels). Walked the half mile to the hotel shuttles in nearly 100 degree temps and finally boarded for the trip to the hotel.

Now it is 6:15 in the morning, the sun has yet to come up over the horizon. It almost feels like winter in Brussels, except for the temp. Anyway, hope you enjoyed my burbling.

Moving is beginning to suck

Hello everyone..hate to disappoint but this one isn't about our cats. We are in the midst of moving back to the states, Alabama to be specific. It has been three years since we moved and that was long enough to forget what a hassle moving can be. Most of our stuff was packed and wrapped last week and sent on its merry way. Some of it will probably arrive before we do, that is always good. Our van is crossing the Atlantic and will be there before us as well. You may think, what is so bad about that, it all seems to be going smooth. You are right, that is going smooth. Time to turn the page....

In order to get the rent deposit money out of the bank, we had to move out of our house a month before we leave. Still good since we get to move into a furnished apartment. However, in order to clean the house and have a place to sleep we needed to move in with our neighbor Pete, still good, but that is only for one week, then we move to the apartment. Still good, but now we are up to two moves in a week. The final straw was the notice I got yesterday at work. They are moving my office across the hall. I asked them to hold off for a few weeks, then I wouldn't care, but once the NATO wheels get spinning they just can't stop. Granted, that is only three moves in about two weeks, but it can get tiresome after a while.

Thankfully we only have to stay at two different hotels, when we get back to the states, before we move into our new home. There is some comfort in that.

Hope you all have a great week, and remember that moving can be fun; just not this time.

The cat in my computer

Well, here we go with the continuing tales of what our cats are doing now. This actually begins with me getting frustrated with my notebook computer. I am just minding my own business, playing a game when it just shuts down. No warning, no error message, just 60 to 0 in an instant. This was frustrating because it only happened when I was playing my game. When I was doing problem. Checking my problem.

After a couple of weeks I finally contacted the online tech support. The technician told me it was probably the computer overheating from playing high-end games. Last time I checked, Runescape is not a high-end game. I played along by flashing my BIOS, modifying the power settings, yada, yada, yada. The problem continued after only ten minutes of play. This morning, I get an e-mail from tech support with things they forgot to tell me the previous evening. I went through all the steps methodically, repeating some of the steps from the previous night.

I reached step 7...something I never thought of...vacuum the vents for the fans. I turn on the vacuum and started to suck clumps of cat hair out of my computer. No wonder the fans were working so hard. My cat was hiding inside the computer. Based on the color and texture I determined it was our little Belgian driver (see previous entry). Now things are running quietly and coolly again.

Back to the gaming

My cat thinks he is a Belgian driver

For those of you who have never driven in Brussels Belgium, let me tell you a few stories about my cat.

Each morning when I go upstairs to wake up my daughter, he races from wherever he is, up the stairs (passing me on the way), and to her bedroom door. One time I was about a quarter of the way up before he passed me, but he passed me just the same. That is the basic philosophy for driving here. If I can get ahead of just one more car then I win.

Another strange habit of his is to not walk in a straight line. I can be sitting on my bed with him right next to me, on the edge. If he wants to leave the room he just doesn't jump down to the floor and run out. He will circle around behind me, go across the bedside table, then jump to the floor and leave. That is the second philosophy of driving in Belgium. You cannot drive anywhere directly or in a straight line. This happens all the time since roads are so narrow and people park on the side of the road. You can almost compare it to slalom skiing on some streets. Maybe my cat is training for the 2010 Olympics.

The last habit is when he is going somewhere and I happen to be walking behind him. He may stop for no reason at all. I try to go around him and he changes direction into my path and I almost step on him. Rinse, Lather, Repeat. This brings me to to the last philosophy of driving in Belgium. I own every inch of the road.

For all of you in the states, I hope you appreciate your wide, SUV accommodating streets, it could be worse....much worse.

All cats should wear nametags

The subject says it all, just ask the other members of my family. They were walking home from the school bus and noticed "our cat Merlin" on the sidewalk in front of our house. My daughter hands her books to my wife and calls "our cat Merlin" and he comes running. Lets her pick him up and starts purring. They have a discussion the rest of the way about how "our cat Merlin" got out of the house. They get in the house, put him down and he starts running through the house. Suddenly, they both notice he doesn't look exactly like our cat, just extremely similar. They pick him up, notice he has claws on his front paws. Hmmmmmm, when did those grow back ??? Next thing they know, our other cat, Tux, notices the one they are holding and starts hissing. They quickly, but gently set the cat back outside. Finally, the real Merlin comes trotting down the stairs wondering what is going on.

So, in case you are visiting us sometime, please use the following identification guide for determining if the cat you see is Merlin or not.

  1. Beady little eyes
  2. Short, pointy ears
  3. May come when he is called, but will not purr when you pick him up. He doesn't like to be held.

What were they thinking ?!?!?

So, my cat decides to bit me repeatedly on the hand. Ok, I was pulling him by the tail. But, he was going out the window to fight another cat and that was the only thing left to grab. I may have deserved it.

Anyway, I go to the clinic (run by the Army) and they fill out an animal bite report. It gets forwarded to the nearest base and the vet there call me to talk about my cat. He understood that he is domesticated, has had all his shots, and is most likely not to have rabies (there are no rabies in Brussels). Yet, and here is the kicker, I am told to quaranteen my cat (he suggested in our house) for 10 days then take him to the vet to get an official "your cat doesn't have rabies" for the records. So 25 Euro later, when our vet looks at the cat and declares him free of rabies the Army gets an end to their paper trail.

On the plus side, the cat has a new nickname....."he who must not have rabies"


Welcome to my new blog. I've been doing this on MySpace for a while now. Putting my thoughts and observations down for the world to see. Problem is, the features there don't allow for sharing much outside the MySpace world.

A friend of mine blogs here, so I thought I would give it a try and determine if I should give up my day job and take up residence here. Chances are that I won't hang up my uniform quite yet. I plan to copy over what I have written there so far. Wouldn't want anyone thinking I was trying to hide anything.

Anyway, hope you enjoy the reading. And as Bill Cosby said a few years ago, "If you're not careful, you might just learn something."