Saturday, February 24, 2007


A Death's Door Experience - 2nd Anniversary

Two years ago this week, I’d come down with a headcold and by Friday, went to my doctor in search of some relief. Like most people, strong antibiotics upset my stomach. So it was no surprise to me that I spent most of Saturday suffering from stomach problems. But things started to get weird by late Saturday evening.

Some time well past midnight, I started to suffer from severe chills and nearly uncontrollable nausea. After a short trip to the bathroom, I realized that I was going to pass out. Since I didn’t want to wake up face down on the floor, I hurried back to bed. There, my shivering awoke my ex-wife, Kelly. The rest of the story is all second hand, because I was unconscious for most of the next sixteen hours. In any event, I blacked out and went into a seizure.

It’s at times like this that I was thankful that Kelly, at that time my wife of more than fifteen years, was cool and composed under pressure. Once she saw that I was having a seizure and was not actually conscious, which was just a couple seconds, she got the EMT’s on the way. They were in my bedroom within five minutes. Although, I’d recovered consciousness by this time, I really wasn’t in my right mind and tried to talk them out of taking me to the hospital. My ex-wife’s cooler intellect prevailed and soon thereafter we were both riding to Vanderbilt hospital.

At the hospital, I went in and out of consciousness and, at least once, had another seizure. The monitors showed clearly that every time I had a seizure, my heart and breathing completely stopped for about fifteen seconds. Well, I can tell you that there was no light at the end of the tunnel. There was only blackness. I was totally unconscious. It was the lack of oxygen getting to my brain that caused the seizure. That was also the reason why my normally good reasoning was suffering during those moments when I was awake and aware.

The doctors at Vanderbilt are among the best in the country. After several hours, they got me stabilized and into a gradually improving pattern. You can imagine the amount of intravenous fluids I was given. By dinner time on Monday, I was awake more than I was unconscious and was able to take my first drink again. By dinner time on Tuesday, I was able to keep down some food for the first time in a few days.

The most clinically interesting thing about this experience is the reason I experienced zero heartbeat. The doctors were emphatic that I did not have a heart attack nor did I suffer any damage to my heart. What I experienced wasn’t analogous to a hard disk crash (heart attack), it was more like a networking bandwidth bottleneck. As it turns out, almost all autonomic body functions (the automatic functions of the body including breathing, heart beat, digestion, blinking, etc.) are managed by the vagus nerve. (See for more details.)

As it turns out, the vagus nerve can be overwhelmed with a single function (in my case, gastrointestinal problems) at the cost of ignoring other important functions (like breathing and heart beat). My vagus nerve simply couldn’t carry the load of an overactive stomach problem and the routine functions of heart and lung. You'd think that your body would know that the heart and lungs take priority over a churning stomach and bowels, but that ain't the case. Bizarre! The doctors assure me that this shouldn’t be a big problem in the future.

You can imagine the anguish this ordeal was causing my ex-wife at the time, but she stuck through it like a trooper. I’m just thankful that my kids were sleeping during the worst part of it. It’s at times like this that you should stop and reassess your priorities. What do you think you’d do at a time like this?




Friday, February 23, 2007


Book Reviews

I've been traveling way too much this year already and it's only February. The bad news is that my heavy travel schedule is set to continue for a couple more months before it calms down again. The good news is that I've been reading some great books that have been a lot of fun.

First, I have to give props to Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. This books was a blast to read. It tells the story of Elphaba, the infamous green witch of Oz, and how she came to be so imfamous. I won't spoil the story except to say that you'll want to watch the "Wizard of Oz" all over again and with a very different eye. You'll also lose a half-week of work in a desparate compulsion to finish the novel.

Second, as a video game fanatic, I finally took the plunge into game fiction and decided to read the Halo trilogy of stories based on the eponymous XBox video games. The first and last of the books, Halo: The Fall of Reach and Halo: First Strike, respectively, were written by Eric Nylund. These two books were fun and fast science-fiction with interesting and multi-dimensional characters backed by a compelling story line with plenty of unforseeable twists to keep you entertained.

The second book of the series, Halo: Flood, was written by William C. Dietz and it sucked. Well, 'sucked' may be too strong a term here. But where the other books focused on characters and story, Halo: Flood focused on action scenes. You can only take so much of the main character (Master Chief Spartan-117, in case you were wondering) tossing a grenade, reloading, and sidestepping. A new Halo title by Nylund (pictured here) is set to ship for April and I'm looking forward to reading that one too.

Finally, I just finished one of the funniest books I've ever read, The Stupidest Angel, by Christopher Moore. The story is definitely not for the underaged crowd considering it features wacky characters, supernatural twists, gross violence, and old-people sex. But it has some of the funniest turns of phrase and verbal imagery I've ever encountered. Whereas "Wicked" is witty and drew a smile to my face many times, "The Stupidest Angel" is outright hilarious, forcing me to laugh so hard and long that tears ran down my face - in public. I can tell you I had no loss of on-lookers wondering whether I was totally batsh-t crazy. I'm now a dyed-in-the-wool Chris Moore fan and plan to get all the rest of his books as soon as the ol' budget allows.

I encourage you to consider at least adding "The Stupidest Angel" to your reading list. You'll be very glad you did.



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Thursday, February 22, 2007


Favorite Political Blog Comment of the Day

"Expecting the Bush Administration to get it right this time isn't even really like Lucy pulling the football out from under Charlie Brown. It's more like if Lucy managed to mishandle the ball each time so badly that it ended up embedded in Charlie Brown's colon, and Charlie kept letting her hold the ball."

Now that's a visual image I could NOT have come up with by myself.



Wednesday, February 14, 2007


The Problem with Jacuzzi's...

My girls love taking baths in my jacuzzi tub. They'll stay in there for hours if I'd let them. Of course, I don't let them if there's soap in the tub (since that can lead to urinary tract infections in little girls). I also don't let them put in soap when they plan on running the jets in the tub since it can lead to this...

After they finished up in the tub, it took me about a half-hour to get the whole area cleaned up. There were suds in every corner!

How fun! Cheers,



Wednesday, February 07, 2007


A Child Prodigy...

Check this out. Here's a girl who's only 12 and has sold millions of dollars worth of her art.

Akiane Kramarik :
Her website:, including images of paimtings since she was 4 years old.
Wikipedia bio:

I'm not crazy about her topics of art, a bit too kitch for me. However, her skill is amazing and I think she'll be of great significance later in life.

The comedienne Kathleen Madigan says that we all have a hidden genius, it's just that most of us don't ever discover ours. I wonder if my true hidden talent is somewhere in this department.

Among equally insignificant but fun web sites, be sure to check out Patently Silly, a web site dedicated exposing the enormous quantities of actual patent applications that are truly, exasperatingly stupid.

And my current favorite YouTube video is all about IT tech support, in a manner very similar to what I had to do in the early part of my career back in the '80s. It's all fun...




Thursday, February 01, 2007


Random Trivia

Random, But Fun Trivia...

• Every gallon of gas burned in a car releases enough carbon dioxide to raise the temperature of the Earth 10 -32 degrees Fahrenheit.

• The coating of wax on an average apple in a grocery store is equal in volume to one eighteenth of a Crayola crayon.

• Every year, seemingly due to New Years' resolutions, sales of cigarettes drop by about 30 percent in January, but then regain half that in February, and are back to normal levels in March.

• When first introduced in 1885, Dr Pepper was colored green and billed itself as an alternative to absinthe.

• Approximately 1 in 175 children born in the United States are currently on the Department of Homeland Security's no-fly list.

• Former President George H. W. Bush won a national whistling contest in 1935 at the age of 11.

• Privately-owned nuclear weapons are legal in 47 states, though they must be registered with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the State Department.

• Joe DiMaggio has the highest number of hits per on-deck swing of any batter in baseball history.

• Bob Beamon broke the world's long-jump record at the 1956 Summer Olympics in Australia with an astounding jump of 9.76 meters. However, it was invalidated due to the assist that he received from an impending cyclone's sudden high winds, which cancelled events for the next 3 days. He did not break the record again until 1968 with 8.90 meters, though he held it until 1991.

• The International Frisbee Throwing League recognizes 17 different grips as legal in competition play.

• Jodin Lavers, of Ontario Canada, has never lost a competitive game of Crazy Eights in tournament play.

• Parkour, also known as Free Running, is the only sport recognized by the American Sports Association that has both no rules and no organized league.

• Static electricity was eight percent more severe in 2006 than 2005 due to an increase in ionized particles in the earth's ozone layer.

• The first game of dodge ball was played in 1493 in Belgum, where it was traditionally played dead rabbits.

• Roughly one third of frogs born in industrial areas are red-green colorblind due to pollutants in their water supply.

• 83 percent of wind-up toys will stop working within 100 uses.

• In 1992 Michael Stipe of REM stopped a concert to rant against styrofoam usage. Styrofoam sales dropped 75 percent within a month and have never risen since.

• On average, it takes until January 24th before one remembers to change the year when writing the date. People who work with large quantities of dated material daily shorten the average to January 15th.

• A standard 160-count box of Kleenex actually contains 162 tissues.

• The average female looks at herself in a mirror 9.2 minutes per day. The average male looks at himself in a mirror 1.4 minutes per day.

• Disneyland employs five people who work full time creating themed trash cans.

• Dunkin Donuts' glazed donut holes are, on average, four millimeters too long in diameter to fit through the center of their glazed donuts.

• An average deck of cards has been used at least once in 6 different games.

• The best-selling computer printer in the world is a Chinese printer whose name translates to "Characters show from box."

• Kamchatkan language telephones, found in northeastern Siberia, have two letters per phone button one through eight.

• Studies have found that office memos on blue paper are least likely to be ignored by workers.

• The average American family puts their Christmas tree up two weeks before Christmas and takes it down by January 7th.

• The average game of euchre lasts through 14 hands.

• The most pressed number button on a calculator is the four key.

• Most adults will correctly solve 10-12 crossword puzzle clues on their first pass.

• Stephane LeJeneau, considered by many to be the world's greatest calligrapher, can write in over 500 font-faces in seven languages, including Wingdings and Webdings fonts.

• On average, teenagers own 78 more CDs than their parents and listen to them 58 percent more.

• The world record for most toppings on a single pizza is 582. There was one piece of each topping, including kelp, emu meat, and a slice of corn on the cob.

• 68 percent of attempted internet connections are malicious in nature. This includes spam, viruses, port scans, and other attacks.

• The Inuit language has only one word for rain.

• The average child knows 26 riddles, and nine story-form jokes. The average adult knows eight and two, respectively.

• Of the ten deadliest animals in the world, six are insects and three are arachnids.

• The Passion of the Christ cannot legally be shown in South Dakota because it meets the state's definition of a snuff film.• A 1908 Ford Model T had higher fuel efficiency than a 2007 Toyota Prius, though it only had a top speed of 45 MPH.

• All Neanderthals discovered thus far have had "outie" belly buttons, whereas most Cro-Magnons, like modern humans, have "innies".

• A typical one-a-day vitamin pill contains approximately 225 calories due to the inactive ingredients.

• The United States Patent Office has seen a large increase in the number of space-related trademark filings now that space tourism is close to reality. The most amusing has been Hertz Rent A Car who have trademarked the gamut, including Lunar Hertz, Mars Hertz, and yes, even the inevitable Uranus Hertz.

• Gerald Ford's funeral is expected to cost local, state, and federal governments $56 million, half as much as Ronald Reagan's.

• Each year, from December 23rd to December 27th, Americans emit twenty times more carbon dioxide than they do during any other five day period.

• Over a lifetime, people who use loose-leaf tea strainers spend an extra two weeks making cups of tea over those who use teabags.

• The average short story is 3,232 words long.

• American mainstream media reporters covering online worlds such as Second Life outnumber those covering the country of Somolia.

• Each year, American drivers use three billion gallons of gas idling in driveways and parking spots.

• Potato chip makers have out-performed every other sector of the snack food industry in yearly growth since 1932.

• A Harvard English professor's survey of blogs showed that Mark Twain was misquoted twice as often as Winston Churchill, but only half as often as George Orwell.

• Recycled glass bottles are boiled at 310 degrees Fahrenheit to remove their labels.

• In 1963, the USSR spent $2 million funding a South African communist party which had only 10 members.

• Dried yellow split peas contain 32 percent less nitrogen than dried green split peas.

• Of the cases of mononucleosis appearing in January and February, the Centers for Disease Control attributes 63 percent to kissing a stranger on New Year's Eve.

• A recent study done by the National Association of Psychiatrists and Psychologists (NAPP) indicates that having hobbies such as scrapbooking, stamp collecting, and music decreases the chance that one will be referred to a mental health practitioner by 24 percent.

• Of all declared wars, approximately 11 percent have had no formal ending. Six percent are considered ongoing, although no casualties have occurred since the beginning of the year 2000.

• There are more U.S . dimes circulating today than there were people living on earth when the Lydians first coined money.

• The original sweater from the children's show Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood was auctioned at Sotheby's. It sold for $725,000.

• Twice as many people are injured falling down wells in Minnesota than in any other state.

• "We Built This City" by Jefferson Starship is the most commonly performed karaoke song in the United States, followed by Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive."

• Among the strangest things ever insured by celebrities with Lloyd's of London are Dolly Parton's breasts, Celine Dion's vocal cords, and Michael Jackson's glove.

• Connecticut is the only US State bordering an ocean that controls no islands.

• Pencil sharpeners kill more people every year than sharks.

• Eleven states have legislation still in law from World War II making it illegal to say "gesundheit" to a sneezer.

• Watching an hour-long soap opera burns more calories than watching a three-hour baseball game.


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