Sunday, February 23, 2014

President Anybody

It is usually around this time I start thinking about the next Presidential election. I know, I know. I'm weird.

In 2006, in my other award winning blog (Alan's Alley), I pointed out that the young Senator from Illinois that introduced Wilco at Farm Aid, just might win the Democratic Party's nomination.  We know what happened after that.

In 2010, I pointed out that Mitt Romney could defeat President Obama and become President Romney. Ok, I'm not  Nostradomus. Evidently, this was a very influential post because Romney thought he could be elected President even after it was learned that Romney might or might not have cut the hair of somebody he went to high school with that could have, maybe, possibly had been Gay.

What is interesting this time around is that the Democrats and Republicans have flipped.

The one quote of Bill Clinton's that I totally believe is historically accurate is "Democrats fall in love; Republicans fall in line". At least in the recent past, it seems that the Republicans have selected as their nominee the guy that came in second the last go around. That's why Republican candidates have had slogans like: "Nixon, I Guess", "Might as Well Be Bush", and "Dole Will Do".

Democrats, on the other hand, like to be swept off their feet by someone "new". At one time, that was Jimmy Carter, which shows you how easy Democrats are.

This time, it is reversed. Former Secretary of State Former First Lady Senator Hillary Clinton appears to the Democratic Party's presumptive nominee. The Republicans do not even have a front runner yet. However, I have taken it upon myself to give a brief synopsis of possible Democratic and Republican candidates. I may just win a genius grant for this.

Hillary Clinton (D) -Strengths: Instant name recognition and many different pantsuit combinations
                                 Weakness: Melts when you throw water on her.

Chris Christie (R) -Strengths:  Governor of a "blue state" and appeals to people that own Bruce Springsteen albums.
                               Weakness:  He is really, really, really, really, really, really fat. According to the latest Gallup Poll, 62% of all Americans would not want Gov. Christie to sit on their lawn furniture.

Jeb Bush (R) -Strengths :  Former Governor of a large state. Exchanged business cards with my wife's boss.
                        Weakness:  Name. Would be the front runner if his last name was "Tush" instead of "Bush", plus he could have gotten ZZ Top to sing his campaign song.

Ted Cruz (R) -Strengths:  Very smart and very principled.
                        Weakness: Everybody hates him.

Rand Paul (R) -Strengths:  Looks like one of my brother in laws. He's a physician so Democrats can't say he is dumb.
                         Weakness: Dear old dad

Paul Walker (R) -Strengths: Governor of another Blue State. Stood up to the Public Employee Unions
                             Weakness: Breath smells like cheese.


Sunday, February 16, 2014

Don't Start Me Talkin'

"We talk real funny down here"
                                                   ~ Randy Newman, "Good Old Boys"

Recently, an article was brought to my attention about "Southern Sayings".

Any good Southern born and corn bread-chicken fried humorist has a stock pile of "Southern Sayings" because it can make a person rich and famous and living in Johns Creek (Jeff Foxworthy). We have our "own way of talking" as Tom Petty said.

However, this article by

Then they proceed  with 13 wacky Southern sayings and they mustard up all their grey matter to explain these sayings. Number one was, get ready cause this one is wild and mysterious and almost Southern gothic, "We're living in high cotton".

Really, America? You can't understand this saying?  The country that invented "LOL" and "Old School" can not understand "Living in high cotton" without a tutorial?

It doesn't get any better. Number two was "Madder Than a Wet Hen".  Would this really stump a person from Wisconsin if  I told the story about when my mother got madder than a wet hen at me because I didn't do my homework?  Wouldn't they kind of figure it out?

Back when the world and the universe was being introduced to the phenomenon known as Bill Clinton, one of my customers, from Framingham, Massachusetts asked me, in all seriousness, "What's a Bubba?"  I told him it meant "brother". I  really didn't know. I've only known one "Bubba" in my life and I was born on the second floor of Kennestone Hospital.

My problem with the article is that it doesn't really deal with the truly odd Southern sayings. For example, my mother always said, "I swanne to Pete". What's a "swanne" and what does Pete have to do with it?

Simple. Nice women were not suppose to "swear". "Pete" is Saint Peter. Therefore, Southern women would "Swanne" instead of "swear" to "Pete" instead of Saint Peter. It makes all of the sense in the world.

Another thing my mother did was say "Scat" when somebody sneezes. It is not as spiritual as saying "Bless You", but it at least it acknowledges your sneeze. (Why do we have to acknowledge a sneezes anyway?)

At least, Sterbernz and Miller end their list with a truly odd Southern saying: "Catawampus". This is so Southern that a person raised in Marietta, Georgia and vacationed in such garden spots as Johnson City, Tennessee and Grenada, Mississippi never heard it until he started dating his wife, who was born in...Marietta, Georgia.

Something was always "catawampus","wobbyjawed" or "out of whack" at my wife's house. Her dad didn't have colds, he had "the epizootics".  It was like I had parachuted into another country where they looked like me but I didn't know the language.

Of course, an article about Southern language and ways wouldn't be complete without mentioning, as Sternzbernz and Miller did that "bless your heart" is the ultimate Southern passive-aggressive phase. "Why I declare, that Alan is such a slow fellow. Bless his heart. How'd he evah ended up with that cute lil' wife of his, I'll never know. Bless his heart".

I do agree that there are some Southern ladies that are genteel. I call them "Not my relatives". One common trait of all of my relatives is that they believe that their opinion is so correct that you need to be aware of it. The earlier the better. Otherwise, you may not be aware of this great wisdom. Like what my grandmother told my mom after she married my dad, "Well, you went through the forest and picked up a stick." My grandmother felt my mom needed her critique. It is amazing I'm not from a family of bank robbers.

Bless my heart.

Here's a link to the article.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Heart Of The Matter

Like all things in a healthy happy marriage, it started with a suggestion from my wife. "You need to start getting physicals so you won't die", is what I think she said. It was a while ago, after I had turned forty. I didn't argue because I believe the key to any healthy happy marriage is for a husband to obey his wife.

As with most men, I had studiously avoided the doctor for years. It seemed every time I went to the doctor I heard things like "I'm sure you've heard about the grapefruit sized scrotums".  Um, no, I hadn't heard about any organ being measured by any citrus fruit, much less that one.

So, I started going to the doctor for my annual physical. Along with hypertension, high cholesterol, and a really, really, really personal non-life threating medical condition, my doctor found I had an irregular EKG. He asked all of the standard questions about chest pains, shortness of breath and fatigue. I had none of those symptoms. He said we would watch it.

Every year, I would have my physical. Every year he mention my irregular EKG. Chest pains, shortness of breath, yadda, yadda. Nope. I feel fine.

Then one year he wants to refer me for a Cardiac Stress Test. I tell him that I feel fine. He still wants me to go. So I went for my Cardiac Stress Test.

I thought I passed the Cardiac Stress Test with flying colors. However, I got a call from the doctor's office. The test showed signs of Ischemia. Ischemia is not something you want to hear because it can cause you to walk and talk with Jesus. It is the most common cause of death in Western nations. From there, I was referred to a cardiologist.

It is important to note: I felt fine.

I went to see the cardiologist. He asked about chest pains. Nope. Shortness of breath? Nope. Fatigued? Nope. Tingling? Only when my wife wears her Friday Night Sexy Shirt. Exercise? Yes, I exercise at least five days a week.

While he was talking to me, he was looking at my chart. He said, "I don't know. The stress test shows Ischemia. It is right 75% of the time. I'm going to have to do a Cardiac Catheterization". He told me not to exercise "strenuously" because he didn't want me to have an heart attack.

It is important to note: I felt fine.

I went home and did what I usually do when I am confronted with something serious. I started thinking about my own mortality and how unfair it was to be dying of something that didn't even make me feel bad. I remembered my primary care physican saying I had a "wonk wonk wonk wonk" (sometimes I hear the adult from the Charlie Brown cartoons when I don't understand something) that probably caused the irregular EKG. It sounded serious when he told me about it five years earlier. So serious I couldn't even remember what I had. There I was dying from something I didn't even know what it was called. I had images of the coroner standing over the late me and telling his assistants "This man had the worse case of wonk wonk wonk wonk I have ever seen".

While researching Cardiac Catheterizations on the internet, I ran across many articles that were difficult to read mainly because they were written by smart people for smart people.  However, one article said that patients with a "Right Bundle Branch Block" can cause false positives for Ischemia 25% of the time. Although it sounds serious, particularly due to the word "block", it is an electrical defect of the heart and does not decrease life expectancy. It is good to use for getting out of things you don't want to do. "Oh, I would love to help you dig that ditch, but my Right Bundle Branch Block has been acting up again." That's when I remembered that "wonk wonk wonk wonk" was Right Bundle Branch Block. That gave me a 25% chance of not having Ischemia.

Only Could Happen to Alan

The Mayo Clinic describes a Cardiac catheterization as "A long thin tube..inserted in an artery or vein in your groin, neck or arm and your heart". Guess where my catheter was inserted?

That's right; it was inserted south of the border. However, before the insertion, that area had to be "prepped", which is medical jargon for "shaved".  This is where the story turns into the alley way of "This could only happen to Alan".

I went into a little room. A nurse told me to remove all my clothing, put on a hospital gown and lie in bed. She handed me a "privacy cloth" that I should place over what clinicians call "Private Parts". She turned around to give me some privacy. She asked if I was covered. I said I was and with that she pulled out industrial sized clippers that they must use to shear sheep when they're not prepping for Heart catheterizations.

She started the prepping and probably in order to help me relax, we started to have a nice little conversation. However, soon we were talking about Tiger Woods and his escapades (this was 2009). Let's just say that she did not take Tiger's side in this incident and I became acutely aware of a woman, with clippers, near the private parts. She stopped for a moment to call for assistance.

In walked the most beautiful woman I have ever seen and I went to Wheeler High School in the 70's.  This nurse was Beyond Hot. The nurse with the clippers said "Help me with this" and pointed to the private parts (Yes, that's what she said.)

I need to emphasize that I am crazy in love with my wife and have been faithful to her and our vows during the 27 years of our marriage. However, I started thinking about something that is inappropriate to think about especially when you just have on a privacy cloth. I tried my best to NOT to think about this beautiful nurse.

I really didn't need to worry because whatever lustful, lascivious thought I had was soon replaced by pain because the IV Nurse came in. She taped something on my arm and said "You'll feel a little bee sting". The "bee sting" felt like it was from a bee as big as a horse. It didn't work. "You have small veins." She tried again. Another bee sting from a horse sized bee. She announced she was going to try the other arm. Same thing happened.

Here's the scene: One nurse is mad about Tiger Woods and men in general is shaving me with industrial sized clippers. The pretty nurse is making sure I don't become another statistic. The IV nurse is killing me with bee stings. In walks  The Nurse In Charge of Getting Information. She has one of those comical Southern accents.

It is here I need to remind you of the correct pronunciation of my name: "MAY-nis". It is not "MAN-is" although that's the way it is spelled. To save time, I answer to both pronunciations. This nurse ignored these two pronunciations and came up with her own: "Maine-Ass". Over the buzz of the clippers and the poking of the IV nurse, I hear "ARE YEW ALAN MAINE-ASS?" "Yes". NOW MASTER MAINE-ASS, YEW GONNA HAVE A CARDIAC CATHETERIZATION?"  "Yes".

She asks me a lot of questions. "CHAST PAINS?"  "No." "DAZZINESS?"  "No" FATIGUE,YEW KNOW, FEELIN' TARED?" "No". "NOW WHAY ARE YOU...OH MAH GAH! YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE HAS SPAKED TO OVER 160!"  It was then I made a comment about the clippers and private parts. It made everyone laugh. I was serious.

Through some sort of medical miracle (they left the room) my blood pressure returned to normal. My wife was brought into the room and asked why all of the nurses were laughing. I told her about the pretty nurse because I didn't want that hanging over my head. As usual, my wife was more than understanding about the situation and attributed it to my nerves. She told me that she (the nurse- not my wife) sees hundreds of private parts a day and that mine was just another one. That was supposed to make me feel better.

I finally made it to the Cardiac Cath  Lab and it was cold as ice. I see my doctor washing his hands. A nurse gave me the sedation and asked me if I liked Harry Connick, Jr. The doctor begins the procedure. It seems like it takes minutes. He pronounces me "clear". No Ischemia, just the Right Bundle Branch Block. No need to come in for another appointment. He told me to take Fish Oil pills. Even if I had Ischemia, he would have put in a stent and I would have been fine.

My family was overjoyed. I could go back to living without the fear of dying from something that didn't make me feel bad. It was as close as I've ever come to walking through the Valley of Death until I started taking the Fish Oil pills. Those things will kill you.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Solutions From A Survivor

Let's be clear: if al-Qaeda ever learns how to make ice, the Metropolitan Atlanta area is totally screwed.

We used to worry what would happen if Iran develops nuclear weapons. Now we have to worry what would happen if Iran develops a Sno-Cone Machine.

As a person who somehow survived the Tuesday Ice/Snow Storm, with a full bladder no less, I agree that every response from everyone (Government and Media) was one big phrase that rhymes with "Buster Cluck".

But, I'm not a person interested in the blame game, although it is fun. I know it is great to roast  politicians. It is funny that 32 years ago, nobody was holding George Busbee or Andrew Young responsible for Snow Jam '82 and it was worse, believe or not, than Tuesday. Kasim Reed and Nathan Deal did not invent ice.

There needs to be solutions. Yet, we need to understand the unique situation Metro Atlanta is in . There are 5.5 million people in the Atlanta area. 5.4 million of them are from the North and 5.3 million of them are from the part of the North that brags about their ability to hail a taxi and get a pizza at 3:00 in the morning. It is going to be difficult to scare these people about a "Winter Storm Warning" that might dump two whole inches of snow on the ground. It is not like a Category 5 Hurricane is barreling towards you.

The only fault I have with the Meteorologists is that I don't remember anyone saying that it was going to turn the roads into a sheet of ice. You have all of these officials looking at the News thinking "The Yankees are going to make fun of us. Again."  So instead of being proactive, Government officials just kind of let things happen and it was a mess.

Solution One: Forget what The Transplants will say. If the National Weather Service issues a "Winter Storm Warning" at 3:00 in the morning, cancel school for that day. It's not that hard. Then if nothing happens just remind them of the time children had to spend the night at school.

Solution Two: The media needs to remind people that we do not get snow. We get ice. The TV meteorologists have to say: "We are going to get ice and you cannot drive on it even if you were raised on the North Pole". 

Solution Three: At the first mention of a Winter Storm Warning, everyone needs to put an emergency kit in their cars that includes an auto cell phone charger and a catheter. If not a catheter, a diaper. At the very least, a bucket.

Solution Four: There needs to be a task force. Ha, Ha. Just a joke. Appointing a task force is like proposing we do something about all of these hills around here. DO NOT APPOINT A TASK FORCE.

Solution Five:  The reason so many people "got stuck" is there were many people not wanting to "get stuck". Gov Deal and Mayor Reed should have  had the roads pre-treated instead of having the DOT  official appear on radio and TV blabbing about DOT's "protocol". Pick up the phone and call somebody in a Northern state. Ask what they use to pre-treat  the roads and if they sell it at Sam's Club. Maybe they'll let us borrow some. It would not hurt to ask.

Solution Six: In the immortal words of my Dad, Old Man Manis, our government officials need to act like they have some sense. That means, Mayor Reed, that you don't appear on TV with an Izod jacket on. That means, Gov. Deal, you immediately fire the head of GEMA (Georgia Emergency Management Agency) for not being at work during an emergency with no real explanation except, "Welp, Ah's jus wuntit thar".

Solution Seven: This is for "the media". Atlanta was not lost. It was not like New Orleans. In a true emergency, hopefully there will not be ice on the roads and things will go much smoother. It would also be a big help to not to tell people to stop and "wait it out". That was a prescription for a sleep over at Home Depot.

With these seven solutions, maybe it will be better the next time a snow-ice event hits Atlanta.

Nah. It is a part of our DNA like the pine trees.