2006: Good fucking riddence

It’s been a year; 364 days of peaks and valleys.
But more valleys than peaks.
And virtually no flat-line of the mundane.
But let’s be honest here, the highs were pretty fucking high – I got assigned to cover the Olympics in Italy, I won another national award for my work and (probably the most important) I sought therapy for myself and came to some very healthy self-realizations.
(Now is not the time to lose that, amid valleys that continue to drop lower and lower in elevation.)
It’s been a year:
Where I’ve struggled to find meaning and purpose after losing my mother to cancer;
Where I was an active participant in fucking up my marriage;
Where I watched a close friend drop dead of cancer (and in one explosive argument two days after his burial, said horrible, hurtful things to my wife, then to make matters worse when she said things back to me, asked her for a divorce, even though I was drunk, hurting and didn't mean it);
Where I had to focus after my dad was run over by a car;
Where I watched him struggle with the loss of his wife and truly ask why he didn’t die;
Where I watched – and listened – as my brother and sisters struggle with horrible things in their life;
Where my wife committed adultery;
Where I filed for divorce.
It’s New Year’s Eve and early this morning my dad called to say that there is a good chance that he’ll have his foot amputated on Tuesday (the day after his 79th birthday – there’s a present).
He’s got a pressure sore that won’t heal, and a staph infection that, quite frankly, threatens his life.
It’s a very fluid situation; he’s at a great hospital, but there are as many opinions as there are surgeons. Some agree that he’d be better off with the foot; others look at the situation and don’t want to give up (even though it means a few more painful surgeries for dad – and no guarantee that he won’t lose the foot a month from now).
I told him that I was mad at God. That whatever lesson there was in all of this, our family has gone through enough bullshit this year.
“You can’t get mad at God,” he said. “We’re going to need him.”
I took a long hike to clear my head (and my heart) and while I appreciate his strength in the face of this, I’m still conflicted. I do realize that every event in your life is presented as a learning experience, if you’re good and smart enough to listen. But it’s hard to listen where there is so much beatdown – any way not enough good things.
When the balance sheet is tilting toward misery.
Life isn’t fair. I’ve heard that my entire life. I get it now.
Life is mostly several swift kicks to the nuts, with the occasional reach-around thrown in so everyone doesn’t check out.
All I can do is seek more help for myself, continue to be a better person – and be strong for the people who need me.
And I need to be strong for me, ‘cause I need me.
It isn’t always easy, it isn’t always fun, but it is life as I know it.
And I know that things will get better.
Maybe 2007 is the year.
I'm not sure it could get much worse (but, I suppose it could).

Newsflash

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA – It has been announced that Thom G. and his wife have filed for divorce, after nearly five years of marriage.
Details of the separation, and subsequent breakup, were not immediately made public.
The couple was married on March 29, 2002.
They have no children together, but she has two children – loved and cherished greatly by Thom G. – from a previous marriage.
The pair met at work in 2000.

Sometimes it's OK to be me

So I go to the library after work on Thursday to browse for books to put on my 43 Things out-of-my-comfort-level list of reading for 2007.
I got some ideas, but picked up something that was more in my comfort range – and is a quick read.
“I’m sorry, but there’s a hold on your card,” Bonnie the librarian said. “You owe $11.20 in late fees.”
That’s embarrassing.
The boy took two books with him to his dad’s place; the fees just sort of added up.
Good thing no one was standing in line behind me.
I didn’t have any scratch.
And they don't take debit cards - yet.
“Hey, you’re Thom G!” she said. “I read all your adventures! You must have been out-and-about. Tell you what, since I know you’re good for it, just pay us in 2007.”
I told her she’d have it sooner than that (the library was nearly closed for the day, so there was no chance to run by an ATM).
Then I realized that the old library (the new, fancy one doesn’t open until March) has some sketchy hours.
It might not be until 2007 that the library gets my $11.20 in late fees.
And I’m still officially embarrassed.

Go grab some life, man

“It’s not so much the journey, but the destination.”
I’m not sure I agree with that.
Mortal man has but one physical destination – a six-foot hole in the ground, or in a decorative urn that will collect dust on some mantle (I leave it up to you to discuss amongst yourselves any spiritual destination you may believe in).
I’d like to think it’s the journey that makes the destination more meaningful.
(And, if all goes right, just before I die I will be granted a few moments of pure clarity; the chance to see through eyes connected to a brain that is operating at its full capacity. And I mean 100 percent synapse-firing brainpower.)
For me, now on the cusp of 2007 and nearing my 43rd year, it is the journey that is the teacher.
A Catholic nun kinda teacher (I’ve had my share). With a big scary fucking metal ruler who keeps rapping your knuckles from time to time (but actually manages to impart a lot of good wisdom, if you’d just shut the fuck up, listen and experience once and again).
With that in mind, I’d come across a Web site that dares you to journey.
It’s called 43 Things.
It is pretty simple, really. You write down 43 Things you’d like to accomplish (weight loss, book writing and travel are all top options).
Your list is shared with others.
Why do it?
Well, it is a proven fact that people who write their goals down have an 80 percent higher success rate of achieving those goals, as compared to people who just think about them.
At 43 Things, you create an account, like a MySpace of Facebook page, and start writing things down. You’ve got room for 43 Things.
Doesn’t mean you have to come up with 43.
“Everything needs a name. We think 43 is the right number of things for a busy person to try and do. Why not more? It’s too much. Why not less? You can do less, but it is still called 43 Things.”
Seems pretty simple.
Only, it is not.
I’ve had my page up on 43 Things for going on three weeks. The only thing I’ve done is put a picture up. (disclaimer: I had a few mental erections in the past 48 hours and now have 35 of my 43 Things covered).
But if you’re going to do something like this, the 43 Things you come up with better be pretty fucking special – like the desire to live in Italy for a year (OK, that’s one).
Or should they all be special?
Something as simple as read 12 books outside your normal comfort zone in 2007 (OK, that’s two).
I waffle.
I’m nearly 43 and I want my 43 Things to count for something.
Or not.
Some of my current 35 are esoteric; some are altruistic; some are a reach. Some are strange. Strangely, only one is sexual in nature.
But that’s what you get with me.
I’m complicated.
Here’s the real kicker: People look at your 43 Things and actually cheer you on (I cheered on a girl who wanted to live life without undies for a week; I’ve been commando since I was 15 and love it – betcha you didn’t know that did you, HA) and you can explain your position. It’s peer pressure, man. And it is all good.
You know what else is good? Just writing 43 Things down (and it looks like I’ll hit that easy) means I have a mathematical chance at completing 34.4 of the 43 things, if you believe the 80 percent theory.
Those are good odds.
Try it yourself, and see.
And see if it’s the journey that makes the destination much more interesting.
One last quote:
“The past is the past, the future is a mystery and the present is a gift.”

Maybe Stevo is right

Maybe I need to take a contract out on my cats (Stevo knows a guy who'll do it for $10 - no questions asked).
The little bastards (OK, one's a bastard, the other one's a little bitch) finally realized there was a Christmas tree in the living room. A tree filled with all sorts of fun stuff to bat around.
But that ain't the half of it.
For Christmas, I got them this scratching post thing that's filled with catnip. They've pretty much ignored it.
And continue to attack everything else.
I also got them a bottle of Pounce "Shake-It-Up" moist cat treats.
Christmas morning, I broke them out.
And they completely snubbed them (although Indy had a good time batting hers around the living room until a dog ate it). I left the bottle under the tree.
Fast-forward to 2:30 a.m., when I hear one of the cats playing hockey with something. I finally had to get it.
A lid.
I figured, in my sleepy haze, it was off some spice container that I dropped.
It was purple.
It was the cap from the treats.
The cap had two fang marks in it; the bottle of treats was missing.
I found the bottle under the chair.
Three-fourths of the treats gone.
Yes, one of them managed to bite and unscrew a plastic cap on the treats and consume most of them.
Which did explain the runniness of their stools when I cleaned the box this morning.
And the monkey bumps across the kitchen.

Fast friends

I am beginning to believe that people are put in your path on purpose.
Take Bill and Julie.
Pretty much out of the blue, Julie (an actress and voice-over performer from New York by way of San Francisco) emailed me to thank me for a story I had written – and to comment on the current king salmon season on the Sacramento River (or lack thereof).
Bill (a Ph.D chemist and former dot.com CEO) and Julie got out of the rat race of the Bay Area and opened a fishing guide service and bed and breakfast.
One thing led to another, and the offer was made to go fishing.
An invitation that I might have passed on as recently as three months ago. But one I happily accepted.
We had an absolute blast.
Not only did we catch fish (Julie and I’s first of the season, with just a three weeks to go), but we connected.
We became friends.
They are both foodies, like me, and we just had fun being in each other’s company.
And it is good to have friends.
I don’t know yet what I am to learn from Bill and Julie, but I’m not going to worry about analyzing it. I’m just going to let things unfold.
By the way, Julie’s fish went 17 pounds; mine went 22 pounds. It was probably the freshest, feistiest salmon I’ve tangled with in 10 years here. I fought her for 30 minutes, and have a huge black-and-blue bruise on my hipbone, where the rod dug in.
Glorious.
Fish and new friends.

Merry Christmas

Christmas is friends and family.
It should be Christmas every single day.
Because you need your friends and family every single day.
I only want one thing for Christmas.
All I want is you.

Christmas videos, Day 5

What's the deal with families wearing matching shit on Christmas?
Holiday sweaters - red and green, of course - with snowmen, Santa or a Christmas tree on them.
Take a family and dress them all the same and you'll look like retards.
Trust me.
My mom thought it would be a good idea back in the early 90s to get T-shirts made up for everyone. And everyone was home - two parents, five children and all their families (even two dogs) - for this holiday.
Guys got green T-shirts with Christmas trees on them; the girls got dressed in red.
There are pictures.
I left my T-shirt at home. I checked last month, it's still there. I smiled.
Thanks for the memories, mom.
Now check out the boys of SNL (dressed alike) singing a Christmas song:

Christmas videos, Day 4

I once - and only once - saw my mother completely lose her shit.
During Christmas.
It was part of the 10-year period where my father tried to drown his troubles in beer and Chivas Regal. And there was a meltdown.
My mom was so good at holding things together, even when dad made it tough to do so. I credit her with keeping my childhood idyllic and happy (my troubles, it seems, came much later).
But everyone cracks.
We had one of these fake Christmas trees that I think came from Sears. Big mother. Each branch was color-coded, at the end of the wire that made the branch. the idea was to put the stick into the holder, then pile each like-colored branch in a pile and work from the bottom up. the "trunk" of the tree was made up of two poles that fit together.
My little sister and I were the only ones home at the time. We tried to help. But the trunk came undone - and mom tumbled into the tree.
"FUCK!" she yelled.
My sister and I looked at her, in shock.
She made a wonderful recovery.
"Hey, how about we make cookies!"
The tree got put up, we made cookies and I think that was the year I got a unicycle.
So you can say fuck and still have a Merry Christmas.

Christmas videos, day 3

What's the worst, strangest gift you've ever received at Christmas?
I'm not talking about tube socks, or toothbrushes in stockings, either (you needed those things, you ungrateful sot).
Something you had to unwrap that had you scratching your head all the way through Christmas dinner.
For me, it was a bowling ball.
And a bag, shoes and one of those wrist thingies bowlers wear.
I wasn't bowling - or contemplating the game - at the time.
Granted, I am Polish and I am from Nebraska (where the heritage and locale predestined me to enjoy the sport). But it was such a random gift.
I was a high school senior, I believe.
My dad ended up asking if he could use the stuff, and had the ball - a beautiful blue marble job - re-drilled for his fingers.
And bowled with it successfully in team play for years.
I, interestingly enough, finally blew out my knee during a game with the kids in 2002. Karma being what it is, maybe I should not have knocked what someone decided was a thoughtful gift.
And speaking of gifts, here's the video for "Dick in a Box."
Careful what you wish for.

Six days of Christmas videos, Day 2

So, all hands got a holiday letter yesterday from our corporate CEO, who extolled the good works we had all contributed to in 2006; namely, we made the stockholders a SHITLOAD of money. How much is a shitload? Billions.
The kicker? You could hear the groans, sighs and moans at our property, as people began to open the letter and read it. Since, two weeks ago, we got an email saying that due to a lousy fourth quarter, there would be no Christmas bonuses for anyone (except, of course, the CEO and management).
What did we get last year?
Fifty fucking bucks to the mall store of our choice.
And that's my corporate "Fuck You At Christmas" moment.
But let's keep it light ('cause if you can't laugh at misfortune, you're seriously buggered).
Let's keep the fa la la in the here-and-now with another Christmas video clip (and since it's Surface Tension, warm and fuzzy has been beaten to a bloody pulp).
How's about Mark "Chopper" Read reciting "Twas the Night Before Christmas" from Australia's Ronnie John's Half-Hour TV show?
Have a Merry Fucking Christmas!

Raging Rudolph

What do you get when you mix a classic holiday favorite like Bankin/Rass' "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" with the the stylized gangland antics of a Martin Scorsese film? You get the MADTv animated hit, "Raging Rudolph."
Have a Merry Freakin' Christmas.

Evil is actually spelled N-E-O

It’s like he knows I dissed him here on Surface Tension.
Neo, my fat-assed black Manx cat (black as in dark and nasty), has been a one-feline wrecking crew since Sunday. Malevolent beyond words.
Sunday night, after I went to bed, he started this weird howling.
Then the crash.
I kicked off the covers to discover that he’d knocked over the shepherd, part of my Willow Tree Nativity set. The set my dead mother had been giving us for Christmas for a few years (which my dad completed this year).
Neo broke the shepherd’s hand, the hand that was holding his staff.
(This poor shepherd has had a rough Christmas this year; Indy, our lithe, bulimic cat - Neo hogs the food, so she ends up binging and purging - puked up on him last week.)
A little Super Glue, and the shepherd has taken his rightful place on the Creche.
Last night, I was reading Christmas card letters on the couch. Neo, in what I thought was a show of affection - a real bygones-be-bygones moment - climbed up on my chest, laid down…
and bit me in the nose.
Jesus, I gotta tell you that stings like a mofo.
Later, after a monster walk with Trinity, I decided to curl up in a hot bath and read Outside magazine. I dropped my drawstring Pjs on the floor and hopped in.
Neo came in, sat on the bath mat, and stared at me over the lip of the tub. All I could see was the little fucker’s black ears – and his evil yellow eyes (try this – go to your fence and peer over at the neighbors, just so they can see your eyes, and see how long it takes before they’re completely creeped out).
I splashed a little water at him and he walked past my Pjs.
Where he took the strings in his mouth and started walking out the door.
“Hey!” I yelled.
And he broke into a run.
Later, after I toweled off, I found Neo curled up on my Pjs – under the kitchen table. That’s at least 30 feet from the bathroom.
He probably monkey bumped all over them.
I put on a pair of sweats and put the Pjs in the washer.
And gave him a few treats, just to try and keep the peace.

Fruit pie and a mocha

That’s exactly what my best bud on this rock, Jason, is going to get – a fruit pie and a mocha – for his gritty performance at the Shasta Winter Cyclocross Series on Sunday.
Riding his spanking-new Redline cross bike (he entered his first cyclocross event two weeks ago on a borrowed bike and I, wrongly, made a prediction that it would take him until the third race to drop some $$$ on a cross bike), Jason finished first in the C (beginner) class.
The 1.5-mile course through Enterprise Community Park was a true nut-buster that had some vicious climbs, some nasty hike-a-bike areas, a dipsy-doodle downhill that claimed a few riders – and a giant pile of wood chips (Chips Ahoy!) the riders had to ride up and over.
Cyclocross is a mix of mountain biking, road cycling and an obstacle course. Nasty. But fun.
Fruit pie and a mocha? It’s an old joke, one that goes back at least eight years. As in, “Man, I feel like a fruit pie and a mocha.” Our-speak for walking over to the nearby Gas-N-Sip for some convenience store nourishment.

There was a time on course where Jason was kind of languishing.
“Dude, win this and I’ll buy you a fruit pie and a mocha,” I yelled over the cowbell.
A smile spread across his face.
At one point, he opened up a 57-second lead; he won by like 17 seconds.
Fruit pie and a mocha.
He got some really cool swag for winning – new clipless pedals, a pizza coupon and a DVD – but I’m sure he’ll appreciate the pie and coffee.
And he’s now done with the C class.
Win a class and you have to move up. Next up, at Anderson River Park, he’ll have to ride with the B class guys. Forty-five minutes on course, as compared to 30 for the C riders.
“Dude, I dunno, that extra 15 minutes is gonna kill me,” he said.
I think not. To make the progress he’s made (and he's dropped like 60 pounds riding his mountain/road/cyclocross bikes), I’m betting he holds his own.
Just in case, instead of a fruit pie and a mocha, I’m bringing a few cold Etna Porters to the Jan. 31 race. A cool salute for being so goddamn cool to put himself out there.
And thanks to my buddy Stevo for the pictures!

Monkey bumping

It is time to discuss the whole monkey bumping thing.
Sure, you can look it up on the Internets – the Urban Dictionary defines it as two women having sex (use your imagination) – but those in the know, those who have witnessed the truth (or have, at the very least, heard the truth first-hand) know of the monkey bumping.
It is, of course, the attempt to clean one’s anus by thumping it across a surface other than two-ply.
Scooting your bum across a granite outcropping in a high-mountain lake counts (this is where I first was made to confront the term; a witness to a backcounty ritual of a deranged backpacking friend. The experience seared an image into my retinas – and left a big mental welt.)
Watching your pet scoot his or her backside across the linoleum, carpet or hardwood floor counts as well.
If you wish to avoid the monkey bump, remember (and follow) these two rules:
1. Do not go backpacking with any of my friends;
2. Do not enter into a long-term relationship with a Manx cat.
I am fucked, on both counts.
Buddies who can put up with all your weird shit in the backcountry are hard to come by. Conversely, you let the monkey bumping go.
The cat, Neo, is part of a package deal; and I really love the other cat.
(I will fess up right here and now, I broke Neo’s hip three years ago – and he has held this against me ever since. Oh, he’s recovered – the vet said he might have arthritis in his old age, and I said, “Won’t we all?” – but any guilt I may or may not have felt does not excuse his monkey bumping tendencies.)
Manx cats have no tails.
And if you are to trust Cat Fancier magazine, monkey bumping is a trait of the breed.
(Just for argument sake, the Manx FAQ also says, “The Manx is a mellow, even-tempered cat, friendly and affectionate.” This does not, in any way, describe Neo, a surly lard-ass that, if made angry, will unroll an entire roll of toilet paper when you are not looking).
But I digress.
Here’s the question in question from the Cat Fancier FAQ:
Do they have bad habits?
“It isn't a bad habit so much as it is an unavoidable situation. Because rumpy Manx have no tails, sometimes ‘poop’ will cling to the close-lying hairs around the anus. This in turn may be smeared on the floor or whatever the cat climbs onto after visiting the litter box.”
And thus, the monkey bump.
Last week, I came in from a walk and thought I’d tracked mud across the kitchen. I made the mistake of swiping the mess up with my fingers.
The aroma of fresh cat shit assaulted my nostrils.
Soft food, according to Cat Fancier, will make the problem even worse.
I’m here to tell you that hard food ain’t a picnic.
Several times a week, Neo will leave the litter box with half a Toosie Roll sticking out of his ass.
You can expect to find these Neo nuggets wherever he can dislodge them (by monkey bumping, of course).
Mostly, they land on the kitchen floor (it’s best to turn on the lights when you walk around my place).
Twice in the last two weeks, however, I have found them in my bed (the last time, I hit the lights and jumped into bed; something lumpy lay under my back. A Neo nugget, thankfully desiccated. I changed the sheets – and showered.)
I must accept his monkey bumping. He’s part of the family, I suppose, the weird uncle figure who drinks too much Pabst Blue Ribbon and insists you pull on his finger until he rips one.
I just keep a keen eye out.
And the Clorox wipes handy.

The truth about masturbation

Good thing, then, that cats average four kittens per litter.
I've got my eye on you.

Fur of the dog (that bit me)

You have to admit, that's a pretty impressive fur sculpture.
And a tremendous amount of fur, too.
I'm so ashamed.

Please welcome, if you will...

Savvy readers of Surface Tension will no doubt notice there’s a new link in the link-o-rama section; one RachelRenae has been added.
Slide on over and read the “Raging, Ranting, Raving, and Rhapsodizing” of this Denver-based blogger.
How is it, you ask, that RachelRenae gets her own welcome mat on Surface Tension?
Three reasons:
1. She’s good, and I think a woman’s voice is needed to balance out the stench of testosterone and general male angst around here;
2. She’s in transition;
3. She’s been the first real blogger (other than my close personal blogger friends) from the vast Internets to post a comment on my little slice of blogdom.
OK, I got pretty darn excited to know someone from Denver took the time to read my blog, so I emailed her. Here’s her response:
“I have a lot of free time at work and I really enjoyed reading your blog today. I'm amazed no one else has read it!
“I was just dying reading your post about nasty getting even tactics,
though I must congratulate you on your new-found maturity. Of course
you can add my site your list! I'd like to add yours to my list, if that's cool.”
It is so very cool.

Hair of the dog (that bit me)

OK, I’m officially mortified.
I took the girls to the groomer today. A little day of beauty.
I told Kimberly that they were a mess. I told her I wasn’t kidding.
She blocked out the entire afternoon to work with the dogs.
I called at 5 p.m. to see where everything stood.
“Not good,” she said. “One is out of the bath, but the other one just got in. We’re looking at like 7:30 or 8.”
I had to be at a Forest Service meeting from 6-8 p.m.
My buddy who was going to pick them up had car trouble.
“Don’t worry about it,” Kimberly said. “Just go to your meeting. I’ll just busy myself until you get here.”
Of course, the meeting ran late. Then lots of people wanted to talk.
My cell rang.
“You on your way?” Kimberly asked.
“Yep.”
I was still 20 minutes away.
(Stop. Look at those dogs. Are they not cute and beautiful?)
As I was walking in, I noticed that Kimberly had some sort of stuffed animal on the table.
“Like my dog?” she asked.
I said yes – then took a really long, hard look at it.
“I made it from Scully, mostly,” she said. “Just the white parts are Trinity.”
Yes, she had enough time to build a complete dog out of fur from mostly one dog.
Ouch.
“I’m going to spray hairspray on it, shellac it,” she said. “And take a picture.”
I tipped her, big time, and also gave her and her husband Toll House chocolate chip/pecan cookies and some tangerine bath salts I made Saturday for Christmas gifts.
I’ll get the dog fur dog picture and post it.
Meanwhile…
“Invest in a comb and really work it,” Kimberly said. “A brush will just get the surface.”
Good to know.

Manic's Little Helper

It has to be one of the best, most provocative, uses of placement marketing – or placement advertising – I have ever seen.
You know about placement marketing, right? That’s where advertisers place their ads in places where they already have high market penetration.
Like when advertisers put up Kool cigarette or Schlitz Malt Liquor ads in predominately black neighborhoods.
Or Crate & Barrel and Pottery Barn billboards at the gateways to vast suburban home tracts.
I had to go back, twice, to my Safeway grocery store to see for my own eyes.
The four ads for the schizophrenia and bipolar medication Abilify (aripiprazole) on the store’s two pay telephones.
This Safeway sits across the street from City Park, which just happens to corral the largest concentration of the city’s homeless population (the rescue mission is two blocks south).
Coincidence?
I think not.
Fully one-third of the homeless in the United States are mentally ill; U.S. Census Bureau estimates put the number of mentally ill homeless in California at 50,000.
A pay telephone outside a grocery store is the perfect place to plaster schizophrenia and bipolar medication ads.
Except the ads have too many words to be effective to the target audience.
They also show a well-dressed woman standing in a field of flowers looking toward a path that meanders into the distance. Please.
You really want to capture the market (and trust me, I’ve worked in advertising), the idea is focus, focus, focus on the message:
“Got shit and piss in your pants right now?”
“Tiny voices telling you things?”
“Anti-social to the point of screaming on the street corners?”
TRY ABILIFY!
OK, I’ve just made fun of mentally ill people.
Express elevator to Hell? I think so.
But how do you explain the placement? I’m just keeping it real, here.
Speaking of real, I always love the safety warnings for medications (why do we insist on ingesting anything made by the giant pharmaceutical companies?):
“IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION and INDICATIONS for ABILIFY (aripiprazole) INDICATIONS: ABILIFY (aripiprazole) is indicated for the treatment of Acute manic and mixed episodes associated with Bipolar I Disorder; maintaining efficacy in patients with Bipolar I Disorder with a recent manic or mixed episode who had been stabilized and then maintained for at least 6 weeks.
“Elderly patients, diagnosed with psychosis as a result of dementia (for example, an inability to perform daily activities as a result of increased memory loss), and who are treated with atypical antipsychotic medicines including ABILIFY, are at an increased risk of death when compared to patients who are treated with a placebo (sugar pill). ABILIFY is not approved for the treatment of patients with dementia-related psychosis.
“Serious side effects can occur with any antipsychotic medicine, including ABILIFY. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you have any conditions or side effects, including the following:
“Very high fever, rigid muscles, shaking, confusion, sweating, or increased heart rate and blood pressure. These may be signs of a condition called neuroleptic malignant syndrome, a rare but serious side effect which could be fatal; Abnormal or uncontrollable movements. These may be signs of a serious condition called tardive dyskinesia, which may be permanent; elderly: An increased risk of stroke and ministroke has been reported in a clinical study of elderly patients with dementia-related psychosis; Diabetes, risk factors for diabetes (for example, obesity, family history of diabetes), or unexpected increases in thirst, urination, or hunger. Increases in blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia), in some cases serious and associated with coma or death, have been reported in patients taking medicines like ABILIFY. Ask your healthcare provider about the need to monitor your blood sugar level before and during treatment.
“Lightheadedness or faintness caused by a sudden change in heart rate and blood pressure when rising quickly from a sitting or lying position (orthostatic hypotension) has been reported with ABILIFY. Medicines like ABILIFY can affect your judgment, thinking, or motor skills. You should not drive or operate hazardous machinery until you know how ABILIFY affects you.
“Since medicines like ABILIFY can impact your body's ability to reduce body temperature, you should avoid overheating and dehydration.
“Medicines like ABILIFY have been associated with swallowing problems (dysphagia). If you had or have swallowing problems, you should tell your healthcare provider.
“If you have suicidal thoughts, you should tell your healthcare provider right away.
While taking ABILIFY, avoid drinking alcohol and breast-feeding an infant.”
Good to know.
Yikes.

I've been Warholized


Since TheRobRogers asked so nicely, I have Warholized myself.
I think it worked out quite nicely.

R.I.P. iPod, 2001-2006


It finally happened.
My iPod made a face.
The face of death.
That face to the left.
There is no hope. No cure. It's dead.
Rest in peace, little iPod, with your click-wheel and 5mb of storage. At your peak, you held 1,037 of the finest songs known to me.
Your service was commendable.
I will miss you, little buddy.

'Happy, Happy Joy, Joy' song

Speaking of being happy, it's time to join my old pal Stinky Wizzleteats is a rousing rendition of the "Happy, Happy Joy, Joy" song from the much under-appreciated cartoon show Ren & Stimpy:

Be happy

There are those people out there who are perpetually happy; folks who just seem to have their hap-o-meter completely dialed in.
Fuckers.
Then there’s the rest of us.
Confused, mostly, trying to find our happiness is a variety of ways (or a variety of substances).
The rest of us tend to fail more than we succeed in finding happiness.
That just sucks.
So I pose the question:
“Is it possible to make yourself happier?”
(And I’m not talking about the joy that comes from touching your special-happy place, either. It’s nice, but too short-term).
I’m talking long-term happiness, sort of what researchers call the happiness thermostat, and turning it up and leaving it there.
According to an Associated Press article, it is possible. New research into human happiness shows that we can ratchet up our happiness thermometers, with some simple mental exercises.
Here’s one of the best:
At the end of every day, think of three things that made you happy – write them down if you have to – and then analyze why they happened.
You’ll be amazed at the results.
You’ll start to notice a lot of things in your day that made you happy, and that picking among them for three starts to get hard. Yesterday, I had more than 10 things on my list. I do my analyzing in bed, during that time where I’m relaxing and waiting for sleep.
Since I’ve started the exercise, I’ve slept completely through the night (and I stopped setting my alarm clock, because that makes me happy – and my day will start when it damn well wants to) and I’ve stopped the anxiety and dry-heaving as I roll out of bed.
I wake up as happy as when I went to bed.
It’s simple. It’s pretty cool.
Combine that with this new-found talent to actually feel my emotions, rather than bury them, and I’ve got things more dialed in than I’ve had in years.
You can learn more about happiness research at the following links:
www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu
http://www.faculty.ucr.edu
http://www.psych.uiuc.edu

Try the 'Warholizer'


The Internets is such a vibrant place to lose one's self in.
Whether it's stealing songs on Limewire, or watching Johnny Quest clips on YouTube, the Internets is just good fun (and not all porn, as some cynics would have you believe).
Take, for example, this little gem of a program called "The Warholizer." Just upload a photo, click create, and you'll end up with an Andy Warhol original.
That's my dog, Trinity, by the way.
Try it for yourself at http://bighugelabs.com/flickr/warholizer.php

Forgive me, I wrote this under the influence of NyQuil

Gone are the days when holiday light displays ruled – and were the rule.
Gone are the old holiday lights, the ones that dads’ smoking Captain Black in their pipes attached to the house with nails, big lights that were real bulbs, the kind that screwed into a socket and if you weren't careful, could burst into flames. Multi-colored lights that screamed a festive “Merry Fucking Christmas” to all the neighbors who couldn’t afford them.
Technology advances. It always advances. And as it goes, so it goes with Christmas.
Simple lights gave way to icicle lights, then multi-colored icicle lights to blinking multi-colored icicle lights.
Those gave way to lit, wire-framed forms – angels, snowmen, reindeer (even female reindeer, does, with articulated necks that looked – if you squint – to be grazing).
Blinking candy cane borders. Spotlights with gels that project Santa or Rudolph or Frosty onto your garage door.
Technology never rests. Not even for Christmas.
Take a walk around your neighborhood at night – tonight, I dare you – to see the latest in consumer-driven holiday decorations:
The inflatable holiday character.
Twenty-foot snowmen and Santa’s. Nattily-dressed penguins. Reindeer in a variety of poses. The all-dancing, all-moving snow globe, with characters that rotate like a merry-go-round.
And a dazzling assortment of not-so-traditional characters, like the 16-foot Homer Simpson, or any number of Grinch inflatables, all complete with his dog, Max, in several poses (and with or without the single horn tied to his head).
Santa in a speedboat, one hand on a reindeer first mate, his other hand on the tiller (and, as we all know, Santa likes the boat option as a viable toy delivery system to tiny island nations, portions of the Great Lakes and some fjord destinations).
The most bizarre display in my neighborhood? The three cartoonish reindeer, looking like they just stumbled out of a liquor-filled holiday blast. And each one of them looked strikingly like Fred Flintstone, but with horns. I supposed it looked good under the fluorescent lights at Wal-Mart, but Christ. Blow them up and throw some darkness on them and, well, you get scary.
The interesting thing about the holiday inflatable is that you just don’t blow one up and walk away. These things have leaf blowers stuck up the ass-end of every character, and a constant stream of air keeps them erect and alert on manicured lawns.
Which makes for some daylight sadness.
For when these characters are deflated, they look like rounded piles of cow flop, multi-colored vinyl and garment just lying there in the yard.
Just waiting for dusk and another blowjob to keep them erect for another round of beating the living shit out of the Jones' (who could only afford a string of multi-colored lights to frame their home).

A short musical interlude

OK, I haven't posted in nearly a week. Get off my back. I've been horribly busy. Social calendar, the holidays, all that good shit. But to keep you all coming back, I promise to get something up very, very, very soon.
In the meantime, here's a tribute to my very favorite band, The Replacements, and the video for "The Ledge" (which is about suicide, not that I'm dark or anything):