Does This Make Me Strange?


I’m better than I used to be, but I still have a hell of a time getting a good night’s sleep. It often doesn’t take much to wake me up or sometimes even to keep me from getting into a solid, deep sleep in the first place. Staying asleep is generally a much bigger problem than getting there (I’m one of those who can go from completely awake to how did I miss the last 20 minutes of that show in what feels like a few seconds), but I’m finding that there’s one thing that has really started messing with my ability to nod off.

It never used to be a problem and I can’t pinpoint exactly when it became one, but for whatever reason now, if I brush my teeth right before bed I can pretty predictably add an extra hour or so to the amount of time I’m going to be awake. There’s something about my mouth being all tingly fresh that convinces my brain that I must be going somewhere or that someone is coming here and I have to be ready, even though I’m tired, wearing what I sleep in and have crawled into bed.

She hasn’t come out and said it, but I have a fairly clear sense that Carin thinks I’m kind of fuckity doo here. Even I wonder if she may be on to something, because like I said, I did this for most of my life without it being a problem. So if maybe somebody could tell me “yeah, I do that too” or call me an alien and ask me which backward ass planet I came from, that would be nice.

One Christmas Down

How’s everyone’s weekend going? Ours has been rather Christmasy.

Today we’re heading downtown to take in some of the Christkindl Market. Today is the last day, so if you haven’t been yet or want to go again, get moving. It’s open between 10 and 4 today. It’s a great way to get some unique Christmas shopping done and give yourself diabetes. I especially recommend the apple fritters and the schnitzel dinner, both of which Carin was lovely enough to pop in and bring home for us a couple of nights ago because it’s close to her office.

As for yesterday, we went to the first of the family Christmas parties. It’s nice to have them spread out this year instead of all in one big clump like usual. It was a lovely time (thanks Brad for having us), much of which I spent playing with the Seppa Tebby Tebby nephew. Apparently he was excited to see me.

“Are you going to uncle Brad’s today?”

“Yes.”

“Is uncle Steve going to be there?”

“Let’s go wild!”

Nobody knows where that came from. I don’t think I’ve ever said that to him in his life. But hey, I’ll take being the let’s go wild uncle if it means I’m one of the fun relatives.

And fun we did have. We ate freezies together. We jumped around. We ran. We played with an airplane complete with pre pillow (I had him saying propeller by the end). We made every animal sound you can think of. We walked hand in hand in a giant circle around the house like 25 times saying hello to people including my dad, who decided to slap me on the ass every time we passed him. Don’t ask. These are my family. Just smile to yourself, say “that explains a lot” and move on. We sang songs. Boy were there songs. We were treated to such classics as Hickerary Dock, Humpty Dumpty Haggery Fall, and my personal favourite, Rassie In the Buppy In the Kitchen. I was able, somehow, to determine that that would be this:

There was also much Wheels On the Bus, including verses about lions, tigers, bears, and something that sounded like “the queer on the bus goes tutu ray.” Yup, we’re all just as lost as you are.

I even got to hear him swear for the first time! We’re all sat down to dinner and my sister realizes “shit, I forgot one of the presents!” And of course, of all the things to repeat, “Shit!” as loud and as clear as the day is long. We all nearly died. I didn’t know if I was going to wear Carin’s mouthful of stuffing or if she was going to choke on it, but what a time.

Next up is Christmas with Carin’s family, at least the parts of it that are going to be in the country. It will be smaller than usual, but there will be children, which means there will be fun. I’m sure one of us will be around to talk all about it.

I Really Don’t Like Twitter That Much

Ok, so that’s not entirely true. It would be more accurate to say that I have a love hate relationship with it. It’s great when people are being funny or you’re chatting with your buddies or when you’re able to help someone solve a problem, but far too often it’s filled with so much garbage. People randomly tweeting their location check-in from the Sub Shack or that they just beat somebody at some game or other as if anyone who isn’t them gives a shit. Everything is the biggest outrage in world history, at least for four or five minutes until the next biggest outrage in world history comes along. People being shamed and insulted for not sharing the mob’s opinion about said outrage even if their reasons for not doing so are decently thought out. Most of the people who follow you are either fake or brands whose algorithm followed you because you happened to use a keyword it recognizes. Donald Trump.

But worse than all of that is how impersonal, fleeting and disposable everything becomes. Honestly, I really don’t like what it does to my brain. I see something, momentarily process it, and then it’s gone. Like really gone. Have you ever been scrolling through the timeline, laughed uproariously at something, moved along and then a minute later had someone ask you what’s so funny only to realize that you don’t know? That’s a weird feeling. Unsettling, even. And it’s happened to me a bunch of times. Carin too. Twitter brain, we call it. At least we’re aware of it and can call it something as we snap back to reality. Maybe I’m wrong about this, but it seems as though plenty of people can’t. We’re all so long on information and short on attention span that almost nothing can make a true, lasting impact anymore. Yeah it’s technically on the internet forever once it’s spoken, but unless you’re really looking for it, after a few minutes or maybe days if you’re lucky it might as well not exist.

And that brings me back, I think, to why I started writing this in the first place. Twitter, at least as far as I’m concerned, has slowly started to fuck up the blog. In the old days I would open a blank page, say something about how dumb it is that you need a pair of scissors to open a package of new scissors, hit publish and then wait for the reaction. Remember Matt and his door? That thing had an absurd number of comments on it before they were stolen from us. Nowadays, I’m not sure a post like that would exist. Most likely, it would get caught up in the stupid is this a post or a tweet internal debate, become a tweet because there aren’t enough words to bother making it a post and then be done with instead of becoming the legend it did. Ditto this, which although it’s kind of terrible I still get asked to bring back now and then. No doubt it would be a series of useless tweets were I to do it today.

It’s been a slow process like I said, but lately I’ve found myself sharing a lot more things on Twitter than end up going here, and that’s dumb. What’s wrong with just saying I like this, you should listen to it or I hate this because it sucks and leaving it at that? Nothing, I’m realizing. I should have always known this because I have the benefit of statistics, but somewhere along the way I started to get a little lost.

The statistics in question, in case it isn’t obvious, are the site statistics. On a daily basis, they tell me two important things. One is that almost without exception, the most popular page on our entire website is the main page, the one where all of the newest posts live. The second is that in spite of the hundreds of followers Carin and I each have, Twitter hasn’t done shit for this place. Have people found the blog because of Twitter? Sure they have, and I appreciate those people. But most of the time I can count our social media traffic on my fingers, and I think it’s time I get the message. People clearly want to hear what we have to say, even if it’s brief enough to lazily put in a tweet. They did before and they do now. Nobody hits the front page of your website and then clicks older posts five or ten times because they don’t want to read what’s there or think that you suck. So why am I putting so much out on Twitter where it’s doing us and our visitors no good? Why don’t I go back to putting it here where I can control it, there’s an easily searchable record of it and it benefits everyone who wants to find it?

From now on, I’m going to do my best to get back to doing that. With a few obvious exceptions (local power outages, road closures), if it’s good enough for Twitter, it’s good enough for the damn Vomit Comet. I used to treat Twitter as part notepad for the blog and part scaled up MSN Messenger. That worked pretty well, when I let it. It’s time to untrain my Twitter brain and let it work again.

I Got My Head Examined, MRI-style.

We discovered that Spotify has everything when just for fun, we yelled “Hey Google, play the MRI song” and it played this. So…soundtrack?

So a couple Saturdays ago, I had to have an MRI of my brain, specifically to have a good look at my pituitary gland. Don’t worry, I feel fine. The doctor’s trying to rule some things out and this was the easiest way to do it. I had never had an MRI before, and apparently it gave me a lot to think about…so here are my random thoughts in no particular order.

I am relieved to know that I’m not claustrophobic. I was pretty sure I wasn’t, but I haven’t had occasion to find myself squished into an unfathomably-small space…so I was afraid I was going to find out exactly how claustrophobic I was at precisely the wrong time. I am also relieved to know that I don’t have any forgotten metal in me. I was 99.99999 percent sure there was no weird metal in me, but a little voice said “But what if you’ve forgotten something?” I was having visions of that guy with the fir tree in his lung, or the dude who had a nail shaken loose that he didn’t even know was there by an MRI. Sometimes it’s not good to read weird news stories. They tend to bubble to the surface when they shouldn’t. I was super paranoid about making sure I had remembered to take things off that I don’t even think about, like my MedicAlert bracelet. I was afraid I would forget one little thing and boom!

The actual scan itself wasn’t so bad, I had read a whole bunch about what to expect, so none of the grindings and knockings and buzzings and other noises really phased me a ton. They were weird, but they weren’t totally unexpected. But I did spend a bunch of time afraid that the MRI would discover some metal. It took me a good couple of minutes to be convinced that nope, I’m all good.

I remember saying afterwards to my dad that it felt like I was being stuffed into a tiny chamber. His response was funny. “That’s because you were.” Well I’m glad I’m not imagining things.

I didn’t know this, but apparently if you move your eyes during an MRI, it can screw up the scan. That’s a scary thing to know, since my eyes move without provocation because of blindness. Thanks, nystagmus. Thanks a heap. It’s never good when I’m practically in the scanner and they put a cloth over my eyes. I ask what that’s for, getting all kinds of terrible and unwelcome visions ranging from animals being blindfolded on vet shows to that scene from the book “The Girl With All the Gifts” when they’re about to saw into that kid’s brain. The technologist says “Oh it’s to keep your eyes from moving.” When I tell her my eyes move involuntarily, she then says “Well we’ll see how it goes.” Considering how much trouble I had to go through to get this far, I was very worried some jittery eyes would have made me have to start all over again. I clamped my eyes shut tight, all the while feeling them jiggle under the lids. Thankfully, when I called back to check a few days later, my jitterbugging eyes didn’t gum up the works.

I’m sure you’re wondering what I mean by “considering how much trouble I had to go through to get this far.” Well, to make a long story short, I didn’t know they needed to put an IV in so they could shoot me full of contrast dye. The letter I got said they may or may not need to use contrast dye. So, I didn’t drink a bunch of water before because I didn’t want to have the need to pee while stuffed in the grinding and knocking tube of doom, and that was a dumb decision because there is a bathroom in the waiting room in imaging, of course there is, and my veins still suck. You know it’s bad when an emergency room nurse prods about and says “Well, I can’t work with what isn’t there.” They almost sent me home without doing the MRI, but I asked for a big glass of water, chugged it down, and a tech from CT was able to find a vein a bit later and get into it with a baby needle. Yup, a baby needle. My veins are that fiddly. But the time between when they started to get me ready to go in to when they discovered that my veins were little arseholes to when they completed the scan took over 2 hours, but for me it felt way longer. As I sat there wondering what they would have to do to me to get the IV in, having visions of being a toddler and them having to jab an IV into my foot, I felt terrible that I couldn’t tell Steve what was up. My phone was locked away with my clothes and other metal things, and Steve was at home with the Shmans since she is covered in metal things like collar and tags and leash and harness and stuff. I felt like one of those people who cannot be without their phone, but I didn’t want him to think anything catastrophically bad was going on.

I think I made the tech from CT laugh because when she thought she was about to have success, without thinking about it, I started whistling the first few lines of “Extra Ordinary” by “Better Than Ezra.” You know, “I got a little bit of hope, like a soap on a rope…”

Because I started laughing, I had to explain what I was whistling, and she laughed too.

I’m always curious about why they do things they do. I understood the ear protection, the contrast dye, the coil going around my head, but before they put the coil where it goes, they had me wear a little paper hat thing. I have no idea what that does, and have googled it and can’t find its purpose. I joked with Steve that it made me think of a kid’s party hat.


Like I said, squishy places apparently don’t mess me up like the guys in the two MRI songs above. But as I have discovered, my brain gets creative when I’m nervous or scared. Sometimes this creativity is good. But oh, sometimes it’s very very bad. For example, when the MRI is making its grinding noises and some of them sound like someone playing an electric guitar very badly, it is not good and not welcome for my mind to take those noises and make a melody out of them that sounds a little bit like “Terrified” by See Spot Run.

When I listen to that song again, it’s not even close, but when I was in there, my brain was sure that the melody it was creating fit perfectly inside the song…and then followed that up by thinking “‘Terrified’? Really?”

But at least I’m not the only one who tried to construct songs out of the rhythmic sounds of the MRI.

I’m curious if I’m the only one who ever wondered if you could put people in a trance with those rhythmic buzzes. I also couldn’t figure out how in the name of all that’s holy you could ever do functional MRI studies on people, i.e. how you could put them in this buzzing and humming thing and then ask them to do tasks. And what about that study where they got a guy who appeared to be in a vegetative state to watch Hitchcock movies and saw that he actually got scared at the appropriate parts. I guess, if a person is considered comatose, they’re used to going through MRI machines all the time, but for me that night, all I could think about was the buzzing and grinding. Would I be able to focus on anything else?

I never considered that I might have to sneeze when I was in there. But at about mid-way through the scan, I started to feel a really really strong urge to sneeze. Not just a little one, but a huuuuge one. I tried to fight it, really I did. I even tried to breathe the sneeze back in. That worked for a few seconds, but this sneeze would not be denied, so I tried to move as little as possible, but that was one huuuuuuuge sneeeeeze! And it screwed up some of the pictures, but thankfully they could redo that set and I didn’t end up in there for the full 20 ish minutes again.

While I was getting ready to go in there, and when I was in there, I could feel a part of me observing myself and noticing that god, am I ever a giant wuss. If I’ve had a test before, as long as it didn’t suck, I’m not bad. But whenever I need something new, despite my best efforts, I am a loud, obnoxious, nervous, question-asking, information-demanding, scared human being and I don’t like seeing it in myself. I realize that I need to have more empathy for other people who are needing something done and are all nervous, because let’s face it, if I were in their shoes, I would be a giant baby.

All in all, despite what probably looks like a long list of problems, it wasn’t a bad experience, but it has taught me once again that you can never ask enough questions. For example, I never dreamed to ask about the moving eyes. Because I was so worried that they loused up the scan, I called and requested to talk to the team lead a few days later to see if my involuntarily moving eyes loused it up and she said no, the images looked good, my eyes hardly moved, and I should only worry about it if they were doing an MRI on my actual eyes or something. Phew! I asked her if she could tell me when I should expect to need an IV, i.e. when I should chugga lugga some fluids to make my veins a little more cooperative. She said basically, if I’m getting another scan of ye old pituitary gland, I should expect the IV. Ok, also good to know. She told me that I can always ask the scheduling people if my scan requires dye. And I guess if I ever need this again and chugging liquids doesn’t help, I can try to negotiate with the scheduling person to see if I can have it done in the day because the folks on at night don’t know how to deal with people with miserable veins. This was told to me by one of the people trying to get my veins, so I’m not saying this as a criticism of the 3 poor souls who tried and failed…although I will still say the fishing expedition in my arm undertaken by one of them was not appreciated. Ouch youch ooch eech! I know what you were trying to do, but ouch youch ooch eech! I hope you enjoyed my creative language choices I used to try and avoid swearing at you. Also, next time you’re about to spear a blind person with a needle, please warn them first.

So yeah. I’ve now had an MRI. And you all probably think the magnets took my mind and ran off with it. Hopefully, this long and winding description of what I went through can help someone, entertain someone, or both. I’m still waiting to hear from my endocrinologist who ordered it, but since the scan was done a couple of weeks ago, I’m going to assume they didn’t find anything earth-shattering and world-ending. If I happen to need one of these again, I will try to be a much calmer, more prepared patient.

Welcome To Seppa-tebby-tebby

I’m not sure why I just opened this file and started writing. I don’t really have much to say, I don’t think. Mostly this is just an excuse to get the word Seppa-tebby-tebby up here somewhere. Seppa-tebby-tebby is September, at least according to my 2-year-old nephew who said it a couple months ago while I was visiting with my sister. I love the way it sounds and I’ve been saying it ever since to people who would understand it, so much so that it’s becoming hard not to use it in conversations with people who won’t. So yes, happy Seppa-tebby-tebby, assuming that Seppa-tebby-tebby is something for you to be happy about.

For me, it’s always been a bit of a bummer. Not a depressing, soul crushing type of bummer like some of the winter months, but a bit of a downer because it signals that the best time of the year is coming to an end. Summer has it’s faults (I’m looking squarely at you, humidex of death), but for my money it’s our best season. It’s hard to beat taking some time to slow down and relax, sit in the sun, swim, enjoy a pleasant evening, catch a baseball or football game or any of a million other fun things. If it could be 25 and sunny all year, I’d be fine with that. So this being the last long weekend of the happy season always makes me…well…slightly unhappy.

Speaking of which, am I the only one who, even though I’ve been out of school for the better part of two decades at this point, still feels a little twinge of sadness for all the poor kids that have to go back when Labour Day comes around? I don’t expect parents to answer that in the affirmative. I’m sure they’re thrilled. But for people like me who don’t have kids of their own, is that weird?

I’m not sure what we’re doing with our long weekend. There could potentially be some family stuff. There will almost certainly be laundry and a wee bit of housework, because there always is. And there will absolutely be us, outside, enjoying some ice cream and corn on the cob. Whatever we get up to, hopefully we’ll make the most of it. And hopefully you do too.

And since I haven’t plugged it in a while, maybe go give me a follow on Twitter if you do that sort of thing. Lately I’ve been making an effort to use it more, for some reason. It can be a truly awful place, but it’s also kinda fun. It’s also a good way to get in touch if you ever feel the need. It might take a bit longer to get an answer now that they’ve gone and broke their shit, but you will eventually get one. So why not come hang out with me? Come hang out with Carin too, while you’re at it. You might even get to be around for one of those historic moments when she actually says something.

Nope, didn’t have a whole lot to say here. I thought maybe I’d be able to get into the Jays shipping Donaldson and Granderson out for basically nothing yesterday, but meh. I’m disappointed to see both of them go, but yeah, meh. Granderson was never going to be around long-term but was having a reasonable year, and while one of the best players in the game like Donaldson should normally net you an absolutely enormous return, that’s not the guy we’re dealing with now. He’s hardly played this season due to injury and last year wasn’t so hot either, so it’s understandable that there might not be a lot coming back in a move. Both are worthwhile risks to take for a contending team, but as a Jays fan watching what looks like another fucking rebuild, I must say I’m underwhelmed.

Am I done now? I think so. I’ll talk to you all soon. Enjoy All In if you’re watching it. I plan on checking it out after the fact. I don’t know what it’s going to mean over the long haul, but it and Ring of Honor selling out Madison Square Garden are pretty big deals for non-WWE wrestling in North America. I’m excited and intrigued to see where this goes in a way that I haven’t been about much in wrestling for a very long time. WWE is still so far above anyone else in the world in terms of exposure and finances that it would be foolish to expect anyone to be playing WCW to them any time soon, but some competition on a fairly major level would damn sure be better than what we’ve had for the last 17 years.

Alright, now I’m really done. Enjoy your long weekend and I’ll talk to you in the soon times.

Some Random Thoughts About A Random Song

Steve’s comments on Gill’s DNA post about “I don’t particularly relish the thought of willingly dropping everything I am into the mail and sending it off to a corporation so they can do lord knows what with it.” reminded me of this song, which I have thought about putting up here since Barb showed it to me nearly 2 years ago. I wanted to mention it because wow is it ever kind of freaky in lyrics and music, and it’s amazing how it’s possible to find different meanings for things that aren’t intended by the author if you really want to, or at least it’s possible for me. Maybe I’m just a highly suggestible human being.

When Barb sent it to me, I thought I remember her saying “The person who wrote this wrote it because she really hates her job.” So I listened to it with that in mind, even though the title clearly said it was about Acsiom, the marketing database. I will blame the fact that I was kind of smacked with a wicked cold for not noticing the obvious. But even so, I started to think about how somebody who is frustrated with their job might see a company’s wish to understand their employees better as some weird attempt to get inside their heads to try and get them to willingly give the employer more of their time and energy. And somehow, my mind could make sense of that too. When I figured it out, the song made a lot more sense without so much effort. Why does my mind try to make things more complicated than they need to be? Anyway, have a song.

Somebody hears you. you know that. you know that.
Somebody hears you. you know that inside.
Someone is learning the colors of all your moods, to
(say just the right thing and) show that you’re understood.
Here you’re known.

Leave your life open. you don’t have. you don’t have.
Leave your life open. you don’t have to hide.
Someone is gathering every crumb you drop, these
(mindless decisions and) moments you long forgot.
Keep them all.

Let our formulas find your soul.
We’ll divine your artesian source (in your mind),
Marshal feed and force (our machines will)
To design you a perfect love—
Or (better still) a perfect lust.
O how glorious, glorious: a brand new need is born.

Now we possess you. you’ll own that. you’ll own that.
Now we possess you. you’ll own that in time.
Now we will build you an endlessly upward world,
(reach in your pocket) embrace you for all you’re worth.

Is that wrong?
Isn’t this what you want?
Amen.

An Update On The Other Nephews

So, I posted a pretty big description of the one mephew in the holiday wrap-up. I went to see the two other ones about a month ago, and have been wanting to write things down ever since. Soon I’m going to have to come up with nicknames for these little grabbers so everyone can tell them apart.

I talked about the other nephew chucking stuff and then, thanks to me, going “oops!” Well, my sister’s little guy does things in reverse. Before he throws something, he says something that sounds like “Sukie jukie!” The sukie part sounds like sushi, and the jukie part sounds like Jupitor. Yes, he made up his own code word for “I’m going to chuck this!” We have no idea where he got it from. He doesn’t go to daycare yet, so it’s not from there. But it definitely means “get ready, this is so going airborn.” Sometimes, when he knows he shouldn’t throw something, he gets this mischievous grin on his face while he’s saying it. There’s a whole logic to it, because when Tans was eating and some food flew over the edge of the dish, he said “Sukie Doggie!” Which I think meant “That dog is throwing her food around!”

He has been a little slower to walk, mostly because he’s a very caughtious little guy. But when I saw him last, he was grabbing our fingers and going “Walk!” and walking around with us. At one point, he even grabbed my finger when I was with Tansy and got me to walk with him. Maybe, just maybe, Tansy is getting less scary to him.

He is really trying to speak, and it’s adorable. He points at anything he wants to have more of, and says “Open!” Either that, or he makes the sign for “more.” His favourite number is 2, and I don’t think he quite knows what it means, but most times, 2 is the right answer. “How many eyes do I have?” “2!” And how many ears do I have?” “2!” “And how many noses do I have?” “2!'” Um, uh-oh.

Most of us have funny names. I am “Carrot” to him. That makes sense. My mom is “Nanna.” That makes sense. My brother gets referred to as “Holy Moly” which makes sense if you know that the last time he saw him, he said “Holy moly!” to him a lot. But for reasons we don’t know, He calls my dad “Ducky!” He knows that the rest of us, when talking to him about my dad, call him Grandpa,” but he is “Ducky!” We will even say “Where is Grandpa?” and he will point at him and say “Ducky!” The things kids will come up with.

He is really listening, and to more than just the words we say directly to him. When we went to see him, my parents and I stayed in a hotel room so we wouldn’t be crashing at either my brother’s or sister’s place. After we left, my sister said that she heard him saying “Nana, Ducky, Carrot, hotel.” again and again. Yup, the boy is a sponge.

I knew that he loved to sing and dance, but we got to watch him do it, while I learned that I know precious little about the songs that play on “Thomas the Tank Engine.” He had this little book that had the words to the songs, with buttons that would play the various tunes. I don’t know how some of the songs worked at all. The words didn’t seem to fit into the melodies! But my mom started getting into one of the songs, and he responded. Next thing we knew, he was sort of singing along and wiggling back and forth in time to the music. I think we sang those songs for a good 45 minutes. My sister called it the song circle.

The older nephew, the one that’s almost 3, believe it or not, is full of crazy energy. It was hard to get him to sit down and eat his friggin dinner! If you let him, he would eat on the move!

Steve found out about this series of books by Chris Ferrie that are all about scientific concepts for babies. We both agreed that that was meant for my brother to read to this little guy. So, I went a little nuts and bought him 3 books from the series: one about quantum physics, one about Newtonian physics, and one about rocket science. Apparently, so far, the quantum physics one has been a hit! My brother says he gets asked to read it again and again and again. He even sent me a recording of him reading it, and the little guy getting all into it. He really loves “the green guys!” Those would be the electrons, apparently.

It’s funny to watch him play with the toys intended for my sister’s kid who is about a year and a half. Even though he’s much older, he can still find them fun to play with.

And now, for the biggest news. On Tuesday, I got another nephew. The little guy who is all into Quantum Physics has a little brother. I really have to come up with nicknames for the nephews or this is going to get super confusing and hard to follow. I don’t think the older one knows what the heck all of this means, even though we’ve been trying to prepare him by reading books about little brothers and little sisters and all that stuff. I thought it was funny that when they got out the smaller baby seat, the little guy tried to climb into it. No, you’re too big for that now. He must have been wondering if he got to choose which seat he should ride in.

You can tell he sort of gets what’s going on, because when he was at daycare, he started running around going “I’m a big brother!” along with his best buddy who also recently became a big brother. Man, he’s adorable.

I think that’s about it. The next time I will have updates, there will be a new little baby to write about.

Have A Giant Holiday Wrap-Up

Holy crap, it’s 2018. I feel like these holidays snuck up on us, then jumped on us, and now I’m still in disbelief that they’re over. In a small sense, they’re not quite over because I haven’t seen the nephews on my side of the family and we might see them this weekend, but everything else is over.

I think the Christmas season would have been a bit merrier if there wasn’t a roving cold going through the family making people sick one after another. This cold/flu/whatever the heck wasn’t messing around. It sent some pretty tough people to the doctor, and hung around plaguing some other pretty tough people for a week or two. It seems to hit you, then just when you think you’ve fought it off, it comes back for a second round of punches. I haven’t got it yet, and I really hope I don’t.

We got tons of time with Steve’s sister’s little guy. That boy can move, climb, do stairs, and his new favourite thing is throwing things. Food, toys, things that aren’t toys…you name it, if it’s within range, it’s probably going for a trip if you don’t catch him in time. I accidentally taught him a new word, but I think he misunderstands its meaning. Whenever anything would clatter to earth, I would say “oops” or “oopsy” or “woops.” Now, he says them after hurling something to the ground. Um, oops.

He’s adorable and a lot of fun. One hilarious thing he does is if you sing a song like “the wheels on the bus,” he doesn’t sing, but he does all the hand actions, and if you’re not singing, he stares at you. He also loves it if you laugh and cover your mouth when you do it. Like most kids his age, he loves having the same book read over and over. I think I could read the “Grandma and me” book from memory. I was almost hoping he would bring it to me and ask me to read it.

Watching him move around puts a whole new perspective on the world and how many things could be scary in it when you don’t know what they do. You can suddenly lose your balance and fall over. You can fail to realize you are under a table, stand up and bash your head. Doors can pinch your wee fingers. People way bigger than you can accidentally bonk you. There are hot things, sharp things, things that look like smarties that aren’t, things that look like they could be fun that aren’t, things that were fun that now no longer are, and they’re all waiting for you to set them off. How in the world do we survive this stage without crumpling into sad heaps of fear?

But instead of being scared, he is full of curiosity and wonder! Many times, you can hear him say “Ooo!” or “Wow!” as he looks at something. He is full of wonder, wondering what that is that he has just found, and we are forced to wonder what he just found and what that might mean.

He also makes it very clear that modesty is a learned thing. He got this adorable, fuzzy bathrobe for Christmas. He came down to show it off to us, and he looked like this little bundle of fuzz with hands and feet sticking out. Then, in a flash, the robe fell off and there he was in his birthday suit, and he didn’t care! He ran through the basement and we had to convince him to put it back on. We had to watch out that he didn’t just stop and pee on a random book. Oh no, “Grandma and Me” might be “Grandma and Wee!”

He got several adorable toys, and their songs and sound effects will follow me for quite some time. One was this little barn with animals and songs.

That video doesn’t have all the songs in it, and it even cuts off the end of one of them, but it has 3 of them that are chasing me around. I’m a terrible person. In the one that says “you give them all the things they need, and you get love in return,” I wasn’t thinking, and for a moment I was mortified. “What? Did it say you’ll get lunch in return?” I thought. Thankfully, I kept my mouth shut and heard what it really said.

Another big hit was this firetruck.

To the dad in this video, go ahead and let Dannie chuck it. It will survive just fine. I don’t think we’ve heard half the things it will say, but it likes to sing the song about “heading out to help, everyone in town, in our red firetruck, hear the siren sound.” We also heard a lot about seeing the flashing lights, and putting the ladder up and down.

There were some other big hits he got, but I can’t remember what they’re called so I can’t find the videos. One was a digger with a little backup beeper on it. Now, when I hear a real backup beeper, I keep hearing “Cat power!” in my head.

He also tested Shmans’s tolerance for little kidlets, and she was amazing. He would fall over her, hug her, try to feed her his bottle of milk, and she took it like a champ. How many times did I pet her and find her with sticky spots where he had probably been? Poor Shmans.

And if he wasn’t testing her patience, there were other doggies who would join in. This was so funny. I brought her into another gathering and kept her in harness. There were two little tiny dogs and several children there, so I was hoping to keep her calm. But this one dog thought there was something wrong with her and just kept poking at her. Sniff her eyes, sniff her harness, sniff her butt. It made me think of how we test responses of people who are in comas by shining lights in their eyes or pinching some skin to see if they flinch. Shmans was not responding, and this made the little dog more insistent. I realized that she would not leave her alone, so after getting approval from the people who owned the house, I let her loose. I don’t think I have ever seen two happier dogs. I think the little dog was sure she had just resuscitated Shmans, and Shmans was so happy to let loose. For the rest of the afternoon, the two dogs could be found playing under the table and being goofballs.

Tans was also amazing because about 3:30 in the morning when all this craziness was set to start, Tans barfed on our carpet. It seems I haven’t documented this fully, but at least once a year, Tans will barf. It’s always in a different month of the year, and we’ve started calling it playing barf bingo. The first two episodes have been talked about, but it happened again in August of 2015, then November of 2016, and just when I was a little too confident that we would make it through 2017 without incident, there it was. She had gotten sick once earlier in the week, but I only saw the evidence after I had fed her her breakfast, so I couldn’t make her skip a meal. Everything seemed to be going along ok, and then on the morning of Christmas Eve, we awoke to what sounded like someone slowly pouring a bottle of water on the floor. Yuck! So that breakfast got skipped, and despite everything being nuts, she didn’t have another upset through the whole holiday insanity.

Tans and Trix didn’t play much, but they got a couple of sessions in. Trix still likes to bark. But Trix is definitely getting older. I can actually hear her legs shuffling along. Don’t get me wrong, she can move, and she did a lot of moving to try and chase people around the kitchen all holiday, but the shuffle is audible. I think she might be moving a little better now, since the poor beasty had to have a toe amputated because it was full of some nasty cancer. They say the cancer didn’t make it to the bone, so she might be ok, but yikes! I don’t know if I’ve lost my mind, but Trix’s head looks noticeably smaller than Tans’s. Is this just something I’ve never noticed before or could it have shrunk? That’s probably not possible, so I’m going to go with the idea that I’m nuts and Trix’s head has always been smaller. Finally, she has this obsession with water, so much so that we have to restrict it, and we have to keep lids down on toilets and bathroom doors closed so she doesn’t try to suck water out of the shower drain or slurp it out of the john. We had to keep the little nephew out of the bathroom anyway, and couldn’t leave water down because if we did, he would probably make his own lake with it, but it’s so strange to see Trix need the restrictions. She hasn’t drank out of a toilet since she was new with me. I told her no and that was that. Now, it’s like she’s driven by a compulsion to drink more than she could ever need. In fact, Brad says if you let her, sometimes she would drink until it just comes back up. She has been tested for all the physical things that could make her thirsty and they come up normal, so we’re left with the conclusion she is doing it because old dog is old. I definitely am trying to get my Trix snuggles in when I can, again, because old dog is old. She seems to think I’m a decent person still, thank goodness.

Steve’s dad moved at the end of November. Now, we should never run into last year’s problem of not being able to get him to Christmas stuff. His place is much smaller than he had, but I think it’s perfect for him, and we all fit in it, even with two dogs and a baby walking around. It was neat to finally see it, since we hadn’t been there yet.

I have learned that I can be such a baby. Steve’s stepdad bought this game called Pie Face. Basically, there’s this apparatus with a chin rest and another part that’s slathered with whipped cream. Every time you turn the handle, there’s the potential to get a splat of whipped cream to the face. So, you have to spin the dial, and whatever number it comes up with, you have to turn the handles that many times while your chin is resting on this chin rest. If you manage to spin it the prescribed number of times without getting splorched, you get the points. In our game, you got double the points. In any case, once you make it to 25 points, you’re safe.

Here’s a video of some people playing it.

Let’s just say that’s not the way I looked. Apparently they have hilarious video of me. I look like I’m playing Russian Roulette. I know my face was all screwed up, and I did not like turning that handle. I kept hearing people saying “She looks like she’s going to have a heart attack!” It was a fun game…there was just something really freaky about never quite knowing when you were going to get covered in goo. That sounds gross.

While I’m all weirded out by getting splattered with whipped cream, some people really don’t like those gift exchanges where you can trade gifts with other people. At one gathering, the way it works is everybody brings something kind of generic that anybody might be able to enjoy. If you’re a woman, you bring something more feminine, if you’re a guy, you bring something more masculine, so there are enough things and everybody gets something. So, all the women draw cards and pick from the girls’ pile and show everybody what they got. Then they draw again and choose to either keep what they have or trade with someone else. The people who drew higher cards have a greater chance of leaving with what they want. Then the guys do the same thing.

There’s this one guy who just hates this game. He always gets annoyed when someone takes his gift, or in the old days when anyone could take anything, when he would end up with a more girly gift. Apparently, he has always been not the biggest fan of this game, so it’s not because he’s getting older or anything. It’s almost become a sport to make him trade, just to watch him get all sad. Yes, we’re evil. I don’t know if he just wants to get something and keep it, or if he can’t remember all the things and it’s too hard, but every year, he gets annoyed. If he would just be cool about it, we’d probably leave him alone.

So that’s the run-down of our Christmas craziness. Like I said before, we decided not to go out last night to hopefully head off this stupid cold. So it’s back to work with me. We just have the nephews on my side to see and then we’ll be all done.

What can I say about 2017? For us personally, it was a pretty decent year. We all were healthy, the nephews got a little older, we went to some shows, everything stayed relatively ordinary, which is the way we like years to go. As for the world, that was another story. It’s never good when every time you look at news, you just keep saying “That can’t be real! That’s not possible,” but it is. It is frightening to see so much open racism and hatred, but I’m happy to see a lot of resistance to that hatred so it’s not all bad. I really hope 2018 can bring better things for everyone.

Please Don’t Nuke Us, North Korea

I wanted to post this song when all the fire and fury stuff started, but then life got away from me. With North Korea doing more missile tests, Now is as good a time as any.

Get your lyrics right here.

I’m not dragging them over here, because they actually have links explaining context of some words, which I think is so much more awesome. They do have an advertisement thwacked right in the middle of the lyrics, so boy oh boy was it ever tempting to copy and paste. But I’ll be good.

This little paragraph caught me, which I hadn’t even considered, and made it that much funnier.

About “The North Korea Polka (Please Don’t Nuke Us)” 1 contributor
In a stupider version of the Cold War, two ill-tempered overtly sensitive world leaders with nuclear arsenals are spewing threats at one another. But one side loves accordions, so Last Week Tonight tries to appease North Korea by calling in America’s best in that instrument, Weird Al!

Yes! It’s true! North Korea does love their accordions! I just read My Holiday in North Korea by Wendy E. Simmons, and there were certainly lots of accordions mentioned in there.

Because I just read that book, I had lots of weird thoughts about that song beyond the expected “ha ha ha you’re funny and weird” that I would have had anyway. I actually wondered, if people in North Korea heard that song, if it would even make sense to them at all, and if it would do the exact opposite of appease them.

So, from what I understand of North Korea, they’re pretty cut off from the rest of the world. I know there are media-smuggling operations trying to make it less so, so not everyone is in the dark, but the fact that smuggling of media is necessary tells you the information isn’t exactly free-flowing. They have their state news, and everything is super controled. So, would they know what fidget-spinning is, or Tinder, or heck, would they get any of the slang in there?

And as for my thought that it would actually piss them off more, here’s why I say that. From what I read in the book, which I admit is the view that people in North Korea want foreign tourists to have, everyone talked about Americans as “American impirialists” who destroyed their country and culture. So, I can’t imagine having an American Impirialist stand up there and basically say “You guys are totally insignificant to us” having a very good result. I’m picturing two kids wrestling and the big one says “Is that all you can do?” What does the little kid do?

I know, I know, it was supposed to be funny, and I’m not saying I actually think it is the only diplomacy avenue being used, and it’s not like it’s getting blasted into North Korea or anything. I just thought it was interesting to look at it from another angle, an angle I wouldn’t have even considered had I not read that book.

Hogewey: What A Neat Idea

While we’re on the subject of dementia, I heard about this whole Hogewey village idea, and thought it was kind of neat. Basically, it’s a little village set up for folks with dementia that doesn’t feel like a nursing home. It has actual stuff in it, like restaurants and a grocery store, and all the people who work there have training in dementia, so it’s pretty safe, and people aren’t locked down. Here’s a basic description.

Hogewey creates a familiar, “normal” environment that dementia patients understand, says van Amerongen.
The citizens of Hogewey share a house with about six others, and are classified according to one of seven lifestyles.
For example, former tradespeople often live together in homey accommodations and eat a lot of Dutch comfort food. Those used to an upper-class lifestyle may join the Gooi group, named after a posh Netherlands region, and are more likely to feast on French cuisine in a stylishly decorated abode.
Each household has at least one health-care worker present who helps with housework and other tasks.
Residents are free to stroll all through town.
“You will see [residents] sitting in a restaurant with a glass of wine or buying a box of chocolates from the supermarket,” says van Amerongen of those who still understand the concept of money. A worker and a resident from each house walk to the market daily to buy groceries.
Employees organize day trips to nearby shopping centres or towns. Special bikes allow two people to sit side by side so residents and health-care workers, volunteers or family members can cycle in pairs.
Nearby townspeople frequent Hogewey’s amenities, and often go to concerts or the annual Christmas fair. On Sint Maarten, a Dutch holiday similar to Halloween, children knock on residents’ doors to sing songs in exchange for candy.

I know some people think the whole Hogewey thing is evil and wrong, but I feel like it gives people a better quality of life, and a lot of the stuff in the village isn’t an act. They’re having real interactions with people, and people outside the community come in too. It’s a lot better than a fake bus stop outside a nursing home that is used to lure people back home who are trying to leave. Unless I’m missing something huge, I think it’s a great idea, and hopefully it becomes more accepted than rare.