It’s July 4th, 2019 and it’s feeling a little fascist out there.

I’ve not blogged anything in awhile in part because my creative juices have dried up and in part because every day there’s so many new outrages to come out of the Trump administration that it’s hard to keep up without being overwhelmed. Children in concentration camps, his unqualified kids sticking their noises in at the G20 summit, and now his big Russian styled military parade for the 4th of July.

This is why the title doesn’t wish you a Happy 4th. There’s nothing to be happy about this year. It’s all starting to feel way too much like the dictatorships Trump loves to buddy up to. More worrying to me, however, is how Trump has shown the willingness of Republicans to tolerate a wanna-be Stalin so long as he’s a Republican giving them want they want. Trump has already done so many things that they would’ve tried to impeach Obama for if he had done them that it really does put to bed any credibility they might have had. There was one Republican who stood up and called for impeachment, but he’s announced that he’s leaving the party so they don’t even have him to point to anymore.

So, have a safe July 4th. That’s the best I can do this year.

Happy New Year 2019!

We somehow managed to make it through yet another year and, boy, am I beyond happy that 2018 is over. Last year started off with me headed to the hospital in the wee hours of January 2nd where I’d spend 5 days while they figured out I had a disc extrusion that was pressing on my L5 nerve root. I really learned to appreciate morphine during this time.

Me in the hospital in one of the few positions I could be in that didn’t make me wish for thermonuclear war.

That was a shitty start to the year and, while it wasn’t the WORST year I’ve ever had, it didn’t improve a whole helluva lot in the coming months. Thankfully, I managed to complete my eighth full year of employment without issue making it the longest I’ve been at one job in a very long time. Alas, Anne was let go from her job in late spring and didn’t get back to work until just before Christmas about a week after her unemployment benefits ran out. She’s only had a few days or work total because of the holiday and this job doesn’t look like it’ll last more than a couple more weeks, but she will be returning to the data entry job she was let go from last spring for a couple of months worth of work so at least that’s something. Made for a very lean Christmas this year.

Holidays can be tough even for the best of us. Napping becomes a necessity.

Still, we have managed not to fall behind on mortgage payments meaning we have a very nice roof over our heads, food on the table, and cats who keep us on a regular schedule. I am optimistic that 2019 will be an improvement over 2018, though given the political climate right now I’m not sure I could articulate why. I didn’t do as much vlogging or streaming as I had originally planned to, but I’ve decided not to beat myself up too much about that. Instead, I will attempt to seize the moment whenever inspiration strikes rather than sit and endlessly agonize over how to do it.

I’m not much for New Year resolutions as I learned a long time ago that I will just end up disappointed, but I do intend to try and improve on the things I need to improve upon (diet, exercise, etc.) and continue to be awesome at the things I’m awesome at (mostly just being me). Here’s hoping 2019 is a better year for ALL of us.

Merry Christmas 2018!

Just a quick entry wishing you and yours and safe, happy, and healthy Christmas from all of us here at SEB.

Not a lot of loot to talk about this year as the budget was tight, but I did get a new pair of monitor headphones, an authentic coo coo clock, and Spider-Man: Homecoming on bluray. Still, we spent lots of time with friends and family enjoying good company and food and will probably have gained a couple of pounds before it’s all done and over with. Here’s hoping your day was everything you had hoped for.

Our Christmas tree with the gift that keeps on giving sitting underneath.

Happy Thanksgiving 2018

I’m a day late, but with good cause. Traditionally, we’ve alternated between my family and Anne’s for Thanksgiving dinner each year, but with my mother-in-law having been in Colorado for many of them, that’s not been the case for the past few years. However, with her having moved back home, this would’ve been her year so we made plans for that. 

As it turns out, she asked to hold it at our place as we have more room at the moment and we were happy to oblige. This also made it possible for both families to attend for the first time. We played host to my MIL, Kathy, SIL, Angela and her husband Rob, BIL, Aral and his wife Lynn, SIL Alica, my mother, Mary, brother, Wes, and niece Jasmine. Our wonderful dinner was a group production between Anne, Kathy and Mary with contributions from several attendees and it turned out great. 

As an atheist, I am often asked around this time of year just who I am thankful to. The answer is obvious and simple. I’m thankful to all the people you see in those photos above. Each and every one of them, along with many friends and family that could not be here yesterday, have had a positive impact on me as a person and for that I am very thankful to them.

Here’s hoping you had as wonderful a Thanksgiving as I did with the people you are thankful for being a part of your lives. 

Starbucks is taking no chances this year.

Every year the national coffee chain Starbucks puts out a holiday themed cup and every year, for the past several years at least, it ends up pissing Conservatives off for either being too inclusive or not “Christmasy” enough or some other stupid reason. Now that it’s November they have unveiled this year’s design which will be available in stores starting today and it’s clear they’ve gone the extra mile to keep their new cups as inoffensive as they possibly can. I present to you, this year’s Starbucks Holiday cups:

So, yeah, those are about as pseudo-Christmassy as you can get. Got a couple Christmas sweater looking ones, some holly and berries, and… gift wrap? I guess? Not sure about what the red stripy one is supposed to be. No reindeer, no Santas, nothing to definitively tie it down as Christmas, but also no doodles that might suggest a SECRET GAY AGENDA!

That should be pretty inoffensive, yeah? Well, there is the fact that Starbucks made the mistake of calling them “holiday” cups and not “Jesus’ birthday cups” like any decent patriotic American company would. I kid, but I bet that the word “holiday” will be the thing Conservatives latch onto this year because 1) they’ve done it in the past and B) there’s little else here to complain about. 

That said, the Conservatives are a little late getting started on their annual WAR ON CHRISTMAS bitch-fest this year. Perhaps they’re too busy adoring Trump and got distracted, but I’m sure they’ll get to it sooner or later. It is, after all, a true Christmas tradition for them. 

Happy Halloween 2018!

Boo!

From all of us here at SEB, here’s hoping you have a spooky and safe Halloween. 

We’ve got our candy cauldron filled with a couple of bags, down a bit from last year, because now that we have a house we actually get some kids that drop by. I don’t have a proper pumpkin this year, but I do have a fog machine to put behind the bushes. We’ve added a little to our Halloween decorations this year too. It was raining this morning, but it looks like it’ll just be overcast this evening so I expect we should see at least a few kids before the evening is done. 

This is an exciting day for me because, as far as I’m concerned, this is the official kick off of the holiday season. I am already thinking about possibly getting some outdoor lighting up for Christmas this coming weekend. The weather has been colder than usual as of late so I’d like to get some done before the snow starts flying. 

But for now I’ll be looking for little monsters to come knocking this evening demanding treats. 

It’s starting to look a little spooky around here.

I’ve always enjoyed the holidays and while Christmas is the one I focus the most attention on, I’ve been very excited to have a house to decorate for Halloween too. Our collection of Halloween decor is still small compared to Christmas, but we’re slowly adding to it. I have a white jack o’ lantern I picked up at a Cracker Barrel years ago that has an orange light bulb that flickers on and off. A couple of different door/wall hanging items, a lantern with a haunted house motif that I swap out for the usual solar lantern on the shepherd’s hook next to the front porch, and a fake tombstone with skull and skeleton arms that’s new this year. You get the idea.  

The one decoration I’m most excited about, however, is one I’ve owned the longest. It’s only a couple of years younger than I am and it fits in nicely with my retro house. An original Pumpkin Scarecrow blow mold from the Empire Plastics Company circa 1969. Check it:

How friggin cool is that? Still glows like he’s powered by a nuclear reactor. This will be his first Halloween in a couple of decades because he was packed away in boxes that were, until last summer, last stored in my Mother-in-Law’s basement. This will be his year to shine anew. In part because he has a brand new light fixture inside him as the original was lost ages ago. 

He’s not particularly collectable — the company made tons of them and you can find him on eBay for $15 or less depending on the condition he’s in — but he’s definitely nostalgic for me. The fact that I’ve had him for almost my entire life adds to that. OK, I’m not sure he was “mine” back when I was a kid, but he’s been with me for a long time and I’m putting him back into service. 

I hope to pick up a fog machine before the big day arrives as well. I used to have one, but forgot to empty it out one year after the evening was over and the fluid gummed it up. I’ve not gotten into the Halloween colored string lights yet as that’s too weirdly close to Christmas decor for me, but I’m softening on it. As I get more stuff put up I’ll probably do another entry with a few more pics. 

Happy New Year 2018!

Yes, I know I’m a bit late with this, but I have a good excuse. My new year started off poorly with the onset of excruciating pain in my left hip/leg after eating lunch at a local Olive Garden. It got worse on the ride home and attempts at sleeping it off did nothing to help. By 4:30 PM it was so bad that I couldn’t get into the car to go to an urgent care center. After deciding against calling for an ambulance I continued to try and rest, but the only position that didn’t cause immediate pain was laying on my belly, a position I never sleep in, or standing straight up, which is also not conducive to sleep. Still, I managed to doze off a couple of times and by 2:30 AM things had improved just enough for me to fold myself into Anne’s car for a trip to the ER at Saint Joseph’s Mercy hospital in Ann Arbor.

This is me in my hospital gown standing up in my room because it’s too painful to lay down.

I was admitted pretty quickly and had an IV stuck into my arm whereupon I was given healthy doses of morphine which helped in making my immediate situation bearable. Over the course of the next day and a I half I had a couple blood labs done, an x-ray session and, ultimately, an MRI. By Wednesday evening they had worked out what my issue was. Despite it being the location of all my pain and misery, my hip and joint were ruled out as having any issues other than some minor arthritis. However, upon looking at my spine they noticed a problem:

L4-L5: Moderate-large size central to left paracentral disc extrusion. Slight caudal migration. This results in compression left anterior/lateral thecal sac with moderate to severe narrowing of the left lateral canal. Encroachment on the expected left L5 nerve root. Mild left foramen stenosis. Right foramen patent.

Which is to say that I have a partial disc herniation that is pressing on the root of one of the major nerves in my leg resulting in, to put it more collequially, “sonofafuckingbitchthatfuckinghurts.”

The first time I was able to lay on my back in over 24 hours and only because I was very doped up on that sweet, sweet morphine. You can tell it’s only slightly dampening the pain in my expression.

Near as I can figure, this is the result of a fall on my stairs that I took nearly three weeks prior just as I started my annual end-of-the-year vacation. Stepping down the two steps from my kitchen to the landing in front of the side door of my house, we had a small rug there to collect debris on shoes as we came in and I slipped on it falling backwards and smacking my ass and right arm into the edge of the step. I thought I had only bruised my ass badly (and, indeed, there was some sign of that in the x-ray), but I thought I’d come closer to breaking my arm than my spine.

After much more waiting around, I finally got word from the neurological surgeon that was consulting on my case that they wanted to try giving me a lumbar epidural steroid injection Thursday morning and then they’d keep me around until Friday evening to see if it had any effect and if it didn’t reduce my pain by at least 50% then I’d be scheduled for spinal surgery on Saturday morning. Considering that I had already missed most of the first week I was supposed to be back at work and that surgery would mean four to six weeks of recovery time, I was seriously hoping that the epidural would work.

Fortunately, it did. This is me sitting up on the edge of the bed eating my breakfast Friday morning.

Mind you, I’m on a healthy dose of percocet in the picture above, but it was still more than I’d been able to do for three days. They kept me around into Saturday, but I was finally let go with a prescription for more percocet and ibuprofen (to reduce inflammation). After a weekend spent sleeping off and on, I went back to work on Monday.

I’m far from fully recovered, but I’m at a point where I’m able to stretch out how often I take my pain pills from the recommended 6 hours for the percocet and 8 hours for the ibuprofen to as much as 10 or 12 hours depending on if I’m sleeping through it. I’m able to sleep on my side again, but I can only manage sleeping (in any position) for at most 4 hours before I have to get up and walk around to get my leg to stop hurting enough to go back to sleep. The pain still manifests in my hip and the calf of my leg, the latter feeling like the muscle is just this side of going into a full charley horse. Additionally it causes numbness in the pinkies of both my hands and along up the edge of my arms. The medication keeps it down to an annoying roar, but I can definitely tell when the pills have worn off. Walking is a bit rough at times as all this also makes my left leg somewhat weak hence why I have my cane handy.

But, I am able for the most part to function. I’m on restrictions with regards to lifting heavy things and bending over too far, which makes putting on socks and shoes fun. I am also scheduled for another injection in February with the possibility of one or two more depending on how much progress I make in the coming weeks. It may be that I’ll end up having to have the surgery in the future anyway, but at least this offers some hope of avoiding that for the time being.

So, yeah, my new year is not off to a great start. I’m hoping this means things can only get better from here on out. I’m not looking forward to the bill for all of this and finding out how much of an additional pain in the ass my insurance company is going to be about this. They’re already refusing to pay for more than one week’s worth of percocet and only once a month at that leaving me to pay it out of pocket, but that’s a rant for another time. Here’s hoping your new year was pretty good or at least not as eventful as mine has been so far.

Merry Christmas 2017!

Just a quick update to wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas from all of us here at SEB.

I finally got Uncharted 4 for the PS4 along with Assassin’s Creed Origins, a new Hawaiian shirt, the book Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really AreGuardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2Deleted Scenes From the Cutting Room Floor, by Caro Emerald, a Doctor Who lanyard, a couple of Rick & Morty decals, Bloom County: The Complete Library, Vol. 1: 1980-1982, and a cool wall clock that plays tunes every hour.

I was going to post a picture of me being jolly, but for some reason WordPress isn’t letting me do that at the moment so it’ll have to wait.

A little holiday music to start the season…

I’m not normally a huge fan of the more religious Christmas carols for obvious reasons, but I’ve always had a soft spot for We Three Kings and this here may be my favorite version of it to date:

I’m going to have to check out the rest of their Christmas album.