Thursday, May 12, 2016

Post-op Day 9

Bulky (immobilizing) dressing removed. No sutures/staples. Glue only. Biceps is where it belongs, now, but it's a lot smaller and definitely weaker. 6 weeks of lifting nothing heavier than a coffee cup. After that, physical therapy. It hurts but it's manageable. I'm working on range of motion. Surgeon said discomfort is ok, but not to make it actually hurt. I can actually straighten my arm to 160°, but can only flex it to 90°, so I can't eat or drink using my left (dominant) arm, yet. I only have about 50% supination (the ability to rotate may arm such that palm is up). My primary concern right now is that I really, really want to shave my head, but I can't safely shave the left parietal region of my head with my right hand. The elbow is what hurts the most. I'm hoping that's just related to it having been immobilized for 8 days and that it will improve with active range-of-motion exercises.


Thu, May 12, 2016 | link

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Athens, TX Post Office Caught Lying Again.

I assume UPS makes a financial decision when they decide to hand over a package to the USPS and pay them to make the final delivery route.  That annoys me, but there's nothing I can do about it.  The packages in question are pre-order items with defined delivery dates as outlined by the vendor.  Thus, when UPS transfers the package to the local USPS the day prior to the expected delivery date, UPS can reasonably expect USPS to deliver the package the following day.  Not so, if your rural mail carrier is dishonest.


According to UPS tracking, my package was "transferred to post office" at 10:25 a.m. yesterday.  Since I was in town, at 1:25 p.m. yesterday, I went to my local post office, and asked if I could pick up my package at that time instead of waiting for the carrier to deliver the next day.  I was told that the UPS packages had not yet been sorted, and therefore I could not access my package at that time.  I was told I could come back later to see if it was available, then.  Although I asked for it, I was given no time frame, but rather was met with, "he's about to leave and I'm about to go to lunch, so…".  I therefore resigned myself to waiting for it to be delivered the following day as scheduled.


After I got home, I looked up the package on USPS's tracking site.  It indicated, "arrived at post office" at 2:14 p.m. yesterday.  This means the local post office has now sorted and acknowledges receipt of my package.  Note this was 49 minutes after I walked out of the post office.


I arrive home today at 12:30 p.m. expecting to find my package in the mail box.  There was, in fact, a package, but it was not the one I was anticipating, but rather a non-priority (non-tracked) package.  I therefore went to USPS's tracking to see where the package allegedly was.  At 7:26 a.m., it indicates, "sorting complete".  At 7:36 a.m., it indicates, "out for delivery".  At 11:36 a.m., it indicates, "undeliverable as addressed".  That is a phrase I see all too often from my local post office.  I literally interpret it to mean, "somehow your package made it all the way to our facility from Louisville, Kentucky, traveling 820 miles, but we don't know what to do with it, now."  Therefore, I immediately called my local post office.  (While I have the names of the parties, I will omit them for now.)  I inquired why my package was "undeliverable as addressed".  Without placing me on hold, the postal worker called out the carrier's name and asked, "did you deliver a package to 6639 today?".  While I could not hear the response, there was a significant period of silence.  The postal worker then stated to me, "she did deliver one package, but the other one was still on the truck when she left this morning on her route.  She'll deliver the other one tomorrow, or you can come by and pick it up now."  I then asked how that qualifies as "undeliverable as addressed" and I explained to him how that phrase suggests to me a problem on the sender's side.  The postal worker then said, "No, our scanners just haven't been updated, so there's really not a code for what actually happened."  I then inquired how the package could have still been "on the truck" as she left on her route when the tracking site clearly indicates it "arrived at post office" at 2:14 p.m. yesterday.  There was just a long silence at this point.  I went on to explain that I've had similar, frequent, problems with my packages not being delivered timely and often being labeled "undeliverable as addressed" yet being delivered the following day.  I told this postal worker that I'd reported this issue in the past.  Before I could go on, the postal worker floored me with an honest response, "I'm feeding you a line of BS.  She knew she had a package to deliver to you today, so when she delivered the package, she thought she was done.  When she got back here, she noticed your package was still in her vehicle, and she intended to deliver it tomorrow."  He reiterated, "I was feeding you a line of BS because I'm supposed to make you feel like the United States Postal Service is performing a good service for you." I told him at this point, I appreciated honesty.  I told him, "I understand human error, and I can appreciate that.  But I can not abide being lied to."  I was then placed on brief hold.  I was then asked if I was currently home.  When I indicated I was home, I was told, "She is coming out to deliver the package, now."  I simply replied, "Thank you." and the call was ended.


The package was ultimately delivered at 1:20 p.m., and the USPS tracking site indicates this.  The package had a hand-written note that reads,


"Sorry, Mr. Hilton,

I just missed it,

was gonna Redeliver


Tue, May 10, 2016 | link

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

My Balled-up Python (or “How to Get a Day Off by Disfiguring Yourself to the Tune of $5,000”)

10 days ago, I had a complete distal biceps tendon rupture of my left arm (my dominant arm). I had surgical repair today @ ETMC Athens with Dr. Rudolph.

Common questions:



Lifting an empty filing cabinet into the back of the truck. I was using good body mechanics, and my arm was actually flexed as I acquired the load. This was no more of a load burden than I'm accustomed to having (whole logs, pulling up fat patients in bed, etc.) I'm guessing about 80 lbs. (file cabinet made in the '60s. Steel). I felt and heard it pop at peak load, and the biceps classically balled-up into the anterior aspect of my upper arm (called "Popeye sign"). I called an orthopedic surgeon within an hour of the injury, and he assured me it was not something that required immediate attention unless pain control was needed. I wasn't in pain, so I saw the surgeon the following Wednesday. There was no bruising initially. Range of motion was not affected. The biceps essentially provides strength, so conservative, non-surgical, management is a viable option for less active, older men, particularly if it's the non-dominant arm. Since I'm not yet considered "older", and it's my dominant arm, I opted for repair. The loss of strength would also undoubtedly affect my ability to split wood. After a few days, I started to notice faint bruising at the bend of my arm. After a week, pooling bruising developed at the elbow. MRI confirmed complete tendon rupture.


Did it hurt?

Not when I did it, not at all. Subsequent days, the biceps would quiver periodically like an impending cramp, but it never actually cramped or hurt. My brain could still tell it to “flex” but all it would do mechanically was jump around since it was only tethered at 1 end. Pretty creepy looking.



The surgery was today. There were a few complications. Apparently, the initial trauma caused an aneurysm of the cephalic vein. This little guy decided to pop as they were digging into my arm. (For my non-medical friends, this is a vein---not an artery, but still bloody.) My new friend fixed it and moved on. Additionally, they couldn’t find the tendon through traditional methods. The tendon had doubled under the biceps and wasn’t retrievable by approaching from the bend of my arm, but they tried...and tried...milking luck. So, they had to make a longitudinal incision at the midline directly over the biceps. They found and freed the little feller, unwrapped my balled-up python, and pushed the tendon down my arm and snagged it at the bend of my arm where it is much more at home, albeit shorter. (Watch this non-graphic video of the button manufacturer to understand what happened next,) As he’s pulling the suture tight, the purpose of which is to slide the tendon into the freshly drilled hole, the suture broke. I imagine it made a “boinnnnng” sound that was only drowned out by someone cursing. I’m not suggesting my surgeon cursed, because frankly, I don’t know if he does. It is only my hope that someone in that operating room at least---someone---cursed in my stead. I mean, lots of prayers were being offered to the winning team throughout this ordeal. This is just a way of demonstrating the semblance of fairness---throwing the competition a bone, if you will. Double entendres thrill me to no end. (Get it?)


What’s next?

I’m in a bulky, immobilizing dressing and sling that I expect to wear for a week, followed by several weeks of gradual physical/physio therapy, and general grumpiness.


What now?

I’m at home. (I used an unnecessary “at” in the previous sentence just to hone my right-handed, hunt-and-peck typing skills.) The block & meds are wearing off, so I’m slipping back into my normal introverted self, when at full throttle, will probably compel me to delete this post. So enjoy while you can. Also, for those prone to scrutinizing grammar and typos, please note that I retain full use of my right hand, which has now been thrust into the realm of dominance. You will note it is equally proficient at blocking Facebook friends as well as squeezing a trigger.

Here's a graphic video of the same surgery when everything goes as planned.

Wed, May 4, 2016 | link

Sunday, March 27, 2016

I'm Back!
I was never really gone, but I've mostly been on social media (reddit, Instagram, forums, etc.).  I decided the personal blog was being neglected, so I may pick this back up again.
Sun, March 27, 2016 | link

Sunday, May 6, 2012


Ok, I admit...I'm a fanboy.

My wife and I have been anticipating The Avengers on the big screen for some time.  As soon as it The Avengerswas available, I went online to order advance tickets at the Carmike 14 theater in Tyler, Texas.  This is our favorite theater in the area.  Specifically, I wanted to see this blockbuster in the Carmike's Big D auditorium, complete with a 78' x 35' screen, advanced 7.1 digital surround sound, and luxury over-sized theater seating. The BigD really delivers a perfect cinematic experience, and I am thus spoiled.

Initially, I was a bit disappointed to discover The Avengers would only be in 3D in the BigD auditorium.  You see, 3D is much maligned on the internet by naysayers, spewing that 3D is only a fad and a gimmick not worth the extra cost.  Then, there are those, purists, who proclaim that the only 3D worth viewing are those that are actually shot in 3D, and that post-production 3D results in a "fake" and distracting viewing experience. Then you have the IMAX fanboys who say only an IMAX 3D movie is worth watching.

Not having anything more than online propaganda to deter me, ultimately, I feared the 3D addition would detract from an otherwise spectacular film.  Additionally, I've had difficulty "seeing" old-school 3D (anaglyph) that uses different colored lenses, due to my mild astigmatism.  I now have corrective contacts, but I'd yet to test them out on 3D.  In fact, I'd never seen a 3D movie on the big screen.  That said, the majority of 3D movies in the US, utilize a more modern technology such as RealD that overcomes some of the hurdles of the older 3D technologies like a dark picture, poor color separation and resolution.

Then, there was the concern for my wife who has migraines and sometimes seizures that at least have the potential to be stimulated by certain visual cues such as strobing and flickering.  Even I have had issues with motion sickness in some unsettling 2D action sequences.

All of this made me quite hesitant to proceed with watching the 3D version, but our desire to see the film in all its big-screen glory, we opted to give it a try.  We are so glad we did.  The 3D effects were astonishing.  It was so immersive and natural I can't imagine seeing it any other way. My wife nor I noticed any ill effects and the image was bright and crisp.  I caught myself flinching on a few occasions.

Carmike Cinema BigDAdditionally, I can't speak highly enough about Carmike Cinema's BigD experience.  The sound and image quality is truly outstanding.

Now, to the movie itself.  If you enjoyed Iron Man, Iron Man 2, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, or Captain America: The First Avenger, you won't disappointed in The Avengers.  It delivers all of the punch of its predecessors and then some. Thanks to writer and director (and my hero) Joss Whedon, the dialogue is snappier and wittier and the characters are more lovable.  And the effects?  I dare say the chaos and mayhem of The Avengers' 40-minute battle in Manhattan surpasses that of any of the Michael Bay Transformers flicks, a franchise I still hold as the standard for visual effects.  I won't spoil it for those who haven't seen it, yet, but I will say this may be the best super hero film yet.

Sun, May 6, 2012 | link

Sunday, February 26, 2012

He-brew Turkish Coffee Stout

A friend of mine gave me a bottle of "He-brew Turkish Coffee Stout."  This beer clearly makes it to my top 5 all-time favorites, ranking up there with Corsendonk and Maredsous. I detected cardamon, but clearly this is an artisan beer--not one of those flavored beers.  So, a shout out to Ryan Gunderson and "Byrne & Friends." You get this beer out there, and I'll be able to say, "I knew 'em when..."

He-brew Turkish Coffee Stout


Sun, February 26, 2012 | link

Saturday, September 17, 2011

By the way...

...I'm bald now.  Or, in the more specific, proper term, I'm "bald-by-choice".  I naturally have a Bald 120inna55thick head of wavy hair.  When I was in high school, I used to spend a lot of time with a hot hair dryer and a brush to make said wavy hair straighter.  Since adulthood, I've opted for lower maintenance, and in more recent years, my wife has been cutting my hair.  She would always cut it as short as I liked it and as often as I liked, but it was only perfect for about two weeks.  At which point, the curls would begin to return and no amount of mousse or gel would control it to my liking.  I actually would receive compliments regarding my curls, but it always felt unkempt and unruly. Additionally, I've always liked hats---fedoras and the like---but I've never worn one due to the inevitable "hat head".

For years I'd "threatened" to shave my head, but I never took the plunge.  I was concerned that to achieve a good slick bald look I'd have to shave daily.  I'm not much of a fan of shaving my face daily, so shaving my head too wasn't really appealing.  Ultimately, that was the only thing holding me back.  Finally, I rationalized, with my thick head of hair, I had to periodically fuss with it throughout the day and some days it just simply wouldn't cooperate.  If I had to spend an additional five or six minutes in the shower to shave my head daily, I would still save time not having to perform any further maintenance throughout the day.  My wife provided the final word of confidence by stating, "Your hair grows so fast anyway, if you don't like it, it'll grow out within a month or so anyway."  So on August 21, 2011, the decision was made.  I entered into a realm of freedom known as baldness!

After taking my hair down to a "burr" using my clipper without a guard, I hopped in the shower, lathered up, and scraped the scalp bare using my trusty vintage double-edge Gillette that has served my face so well over the years.  I made a few rookie mistakes, i.e. spending too much time on a virgin scalp trying to ensure complete slickness by making too many repeated passes resulting in some razor burn.  All in all, however, I was very pleased with the results.

I then ventured onto the internet for some tips.  Little did I know there's a wealth of information out there regarding head shaving.  The first place I stumbled upon was  It proved to be a nice informative site providing unbiased information about products and techniques.  It's a great place to check out even if you've been shaving for years.  It's also a very informative those who think they already know everything there is to know about face shaving. You will learn something. recommended other sites, one of which was the invaluable  SlyBaldGuys is a great community of folks who are eager to share their experiences and advice about not only head shaving but many other related topics as well.  The site also helps those who suffer from male pattern baldness and serves as support and encouragement for those with self-esteem problems related to the condition.  For some, shaving their heads provides freedom from feeble attempts to hide their male pattern baldness while others, such as myself, have gained freedom from their hair.

HeadBlade SportSo for the past four weeks, I've been experimenting with different razors and products to obtain the fastest, closest, and most comfortable shave.  I found many guys recommending the HeadBlade Sport.  I was skeptical at first thinking it was a gimmick.  It looks like a cross between a Hotwheels car and a toy spaceship.  (Click thumbnail picture for a larger version).  I probably never would have purchased one had I not come across it in Walgreens for $13.  What did I have to lose?  So, I picked one up and tried it the next morning.  I was amazed.  It fits on your middle finger and you simply swipe your hand across your dome in a motion similar to slicking your hair back.  The result is a very close shave within about 3 minutes after practice.  I've been shaving daily for the past ten days using this ingenious contraption.  I highly recommend it!

Check out this video from HeadBlade spokesman, Jack, giving a demonstration of the HeadBlade Sport:

Sat, September 17, 2011 | link

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

My contempt for humanity

Most of you know, I'm an RN that works in a hospital, but I don't work for the hospital.  I work for a cardiologist.  It is not unusual for patients and patients' families to assume I work for the hospital, even though my name badge clearly indicates differently.  I've been known to answer the phone and help out a colleague from time to time, but I do have my own job to do.  As a result, when a patient or family member comes up to me to ask a question, I generally avoid eye contact so they'll ask someone else.  If they don't get the message and proceed with their question, I'll usually preface it with, "I don't work here, but...", and then I'll usually direct them.  I've worked in this hospital for 15 years so, I probably know the answer.

Today, a patient's family member approached me while I was sitting at the nurses desk, looking through a chart.  I have a very effective 'I'm busy' look.  This lady apparently, despite her years, was not familiar with this method of anti-communication.  She proceeded to ask, "Where is the ice machine?"  She asked twice.  The nurse sitting right next to me - the nurse who actually works for the hospital - apparently has honed her 'I'm busy' look better than mine and managed to completely ignore said nuisance. (Thanks Judith). 

So, while getting up to leave the desk, I pointed to the nourishment room, that is - oddly enough - labeled "nourishment room", and told her, "It's over there in the nourishment room."  Because I'm there as her servant, no "thank you" was offered or even implied.  I went my way and she headed for the nourishment room.  I knew the room was locked, and that it requires your pass key (which I have) or the ward secretary to push a button to allow access. Ultimately, this is just one more pointless task the staff must endure, because I cannot see how this has squelched the inappropriate access to snacks by the patients, families, vagabonds, and truants since implementing this procedure. I assumed this person would do what every other semi-sentient being has done since implementing the procedure, and that is to abruptly shake and rattle the locked door handle a minimum of three times before turning around and issuing a perplexed look at the ward secretary thus prompting her to push the button granting access to the snack mecca that is the nourishment room.

About 30 minutes later, I returned to the desk to discover that the nurse who was previously oblivious to everything around her now had an in depth account of the circumstances following my departure.

Apparently, this lady fell apart, sobbing, and ranting to the charge nurse and anyone else who would hear her plight about my complete lack of compassion by directing her to a locked door.  Compassion?  You are able to derive my lack of compassion based on a single sentence uttered from my lips?  A 10 second conversation, the subject of which amounted to a bucket of ice?  If this is how you want to play the game, fine.  I will therefore deduce from our soul-revealing encounter that you are a heartless, self-centered, individual who thinks everyone is around you to be at your beck and call.

Now, before any of you bleeding hearts out there start to tell me how I don't know what she's going through.  Perhaps a loved one is in declining health and her emotions are on edge...

Save it.

I've been on the other side of the nurses desk.

My contempt for humanity is growing.

Tue, September 6, 2011 | link

Monday, September 5, 2011

Only one moon

I suppose Facebook is causing independent, illegitimate, bloggers such as myself to neglect our meek little personal websites.  So, since I believe, someday, Facebook will become a paysite, I'm back.  I'm still on Facebook, mind you.  I'm also on Twitter, for what it's worth.

So, now there is only one moon...

I suppose that statement requires a little background. I have a vision problem that I only notice while looking at bright objects against a dark background such as headlights at night, end credits to a movie, or the night sky.  The problem is such that when I look at the moon, I see a perfect crisp image of the moon with a lighter, blurry, repeated image up and to the right of the "original".

About 5 years ago, I went to an optometrist who diagnosed the problem an astigmatism.  While she felt my degree of astigmatism was mild, she offered glasses.  I asked her about contacts, but she said they didn't make contacts for astigmatism.  Otherwise, my vision was perfect.  I opted for the glasses, but ultimately they never really made much difference, so I rarely wore them.

I'd heard there are now toric contact lenses to correct astigmatism.  Since my first visit with the optometrist, my insurance has changed, so I had to go to a different doctor.  The experience was incredible, to say the least. I saw Dr. Valerie Mace with EyeCare Associates of East Texas.  She confirmed my astigmatism, but again indicated my visual acuity is still perfect.  I told her I wanted contacts partly due to wanting to be able to enjoy 3D movies, a technology that untreated astigmatism sufferers cannot enjoy due to the inherent "stereovision" trick on the brain. Interestingly, she said this was not the first time she'd heard this rationale for an individual's decision to correct their astigmatism.

So, what made this little visit to the optometrist an "incredible" experience?  Never having worn contacts before in my life, I walked out of her office within one hour with perfect vision!  A patient put it best when she said, "You can't even get an oil change done right in an hour." I can't say enough about Dr. Mace and her professional staff.  Now, there is only one moon.

Mon, September 5, 2011 | link

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Snake(s) Won

We came home from church tonight to find the nest pillaged.  The babies gone.  And a fat, happy snake comfortably resting on a vent on the side of the house.

Pillaged Nest  Snake Snake Snake

My wife's blog entry describes the event here: Rushlight's Muse

Wed, May 11, 2011 | link

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