Fire Prevention Week

I just returned from a morning trip to Cleveland Metro’s burn unit, where an attractive nurse-type figure redressed the upper-second-degree burns on my left hand.

“At least the basket of puppies is okay.”

Something tells me she wasn’t going to fall for that line. And let’s be honest: neither are you. I can claim no such honorable deed.

You know it was a decent Friday night when you find yourself in the ER during the wee hours of the next morning. Evidently, I had to relearn what most must know as obvious fire safety. So the following list of nuggets will come as nothing new, but here they are:

  • Fire is hot.
  • If you must use candles, picture that candle burning all the way down and make provisions as if that’s exactly what it’s going to do.
  • Fire is hot. And it hurts.
  • Make sure any candles are not in a position (*cough*nightstand*cough*) where something can land on top of them. This…this is where I failed.
  • You are not going to believe how hot fire is until you use your hand to swat a pile of burning debris out the door.
  • Do not use your hand to swat a pile of burning debris. In fact, use about anything OTHER than your hand. Why? a) You use your hands for just about everything, including swatting, and you’d rather it not get taken out of commission; b) I hear hands have a high density of nerves, and I believe it.
  • Make sure your smoke detectors are present and functional.
  • Have a fire extinguisher conveniently located in your house
  • Finally, fire is hot. I generally suggest not touching it. You will regret it.
  • See? All pretty simple notions, right? Keep them in mind and you may very well lead a more comfortable life. As for me, aside from some momentary discomfort, a bruised ego, and perhaps a jeopardized future in hand modeling, I’m going to be just fine.

    Intolerance

    I just do not have tolerance for it anymore. It could be that time has eroded my patience or altered my perspective or simply made me angrier, I don’t know; but I can feel within me that silent objection is no objection at all and instead stinks outwardly of implied condonation. And I’m not okay with that.

    I anticipate exciting things to come since the intolerant often don’t respond well to…umm…not being tolerated.

    Priorities

    What are yours? How long have you had them? When was the last time you gave them an honest reassessment?

    I wonder how faithfully the priorities upon which the average person acts reflect what he or she actually wants in life. I think it’s tempting to simply adopt a set of priorities and use them as an intractable architecture upon which to base our life’s pursuits, neglecting to evolve them according to how we want to live; the cart leads the horse. Imposing such stability on one’s goals can be enticing at first, hasty glance.

    What if you are deceiving yourself? How much time – how many years – have you wasted?

    It should go without saying that we ought exercise vigilant scrutiny of our so-called life priorities, and yet I think that is easy to forget. Once begun, the lure of a chase can be perpetual and deceptively gratifying, however misguided.

    Is it too late?

    I see little nobility in the blind pursuit of empty priorities – I fear many are – and I pity those of us who lack the timely, vital discernment required to see.

    Holla Back

    On my drive home today, I was scanning the airwaves and stumbled upon “Hollaback Girl” by Gwen Stefani. I’m not a huge fan of the song so I continued searching stations, but it got me thinking: what was the meaning of these lyrics? If you’re not a “hollaback girl,” as Gwen so craftily phrases it, does this mean you will not return my phone calls? It strikes me as kind of strange. I mean, I’m a nice enough guy, I think, and I thought we really hit things off. I have a genuine desire to see you again, and it’s pretty conventional for a guy to coordinate with a romantic interest via telephone, possibly even leaving a voice message which common courtesy would suggest returning. Why does this somehow make me bananas?

    Restraint

    Once in a while I am presented with empirical evidence that suggests, at least to a degree, I must be maturing. I know, I know…I think it’s strange, too.

    Last week I was at Fitworks in Rocky River performing the mindless exercises that remind me of my mediocre physical condition. In the middle of four sets of straight-legged dead lifts (Romanian dead lifts – RDL’s – if you’re an OU wrestler…sounds more exotic that way, I guess…adding “Romanian” in front of anything makes it better), I stepped away for a drink. As I returned I saw a couple of guys eyeing my workout cage. I’m always pretty cordial when I see this happen. I asked, “You guys want to work in?”

    “No, I don’t do *that* kind of weight,” the one replied smugly. This was by no means a hat-tipping to the amount of weight I had on the bar.

    Restraint Demonstration #1: Resisting the urge to say “What, want me to peel some off for you?”

    By that, I mean that’s what I DIDN’T say, and I’m not sure why; I normally have few reservations about running my mouth. Maybe it was a combination of the facts that a) this guy had about 50 lbs. on me; and b) I was within arm’s reach. Yeah, maybe that’s it, but even those two factors would be powerless to alter my behavior without receiving some acknowledgment by me, acknowledgment in the form of restraint. This is where I begin to arrive at the somewhat unsettling notion of impending maturity.

    At any rate, in my mind I was facetiously thanking him for the moral support as he and his friend found a spot nearby in which to work. The talker of the duo was visually a fairly typical specimen one expects to see in a weight room: meticulous year-round tan, bravado more than compensating for any thinning hair, donning square pieces of fabric held together by shoulder straps. Imagine my surprise when I see him set up a few feet away from me and begin working out with the same exact amount of weight I was using.

    Restraint Demonstration #2: “Whew. Good thing you don’t do *this* kind of weight.”

    Again, a comment I did NOT make. And again, I lack explanation for my reservedness. I’m as appalled as you are. Maybe it was something I ate that day, maybe it was something in the air, but for whatever reason I just chuckled, kept my mouth shut, and went on my merry way.

    When You Have No Business Running

    A half marathon, that is.

    And I use the term “running” loosely because for me it was more like shuffling. Or maybe plodding.

    I partook in such an event in Cleveland this past May after implementing an innovative training method. The crux of this method: run the distance of the half marathon (13.1 miles) in the weeks leading up to it. By that, I mean in the weeks leading up to it run a TOTAL of 13.1 miles. In my case, I did so in 3-4 mile increments.

    The results: I may want to revisit this particular training technique. Let me elaborate by providing a summary of the “race.”

    Pre-Race: I discovered that there *is* a 7:00 AM on Sundays. This particular one found me standing in the rain in 50-degree temperatures prior to start time. I’m pretty sure the $80 registration fee relinquished the previous day was the only thing that kept me from yanking my bib off and going back to bed, where a person belongs at 7:00 AM on a Sunday.

    I knew enough to be nowhere near the front of this masochistic bunch. I made my way backward between race participants until I met a veritable wall of runners who must have also realized that they, too, had no business toward the front of the pack. I figured the spot would have to do.

    Mile 1: The opening of the race was fantastic, mainly because it took about a minute and a half for everyone in front of me to start moving. People around me began to slowly move toward the starting line ahead; as I walked comfortably along I noticed a few people begin to run, almost in place, at this incredibly slow pace. What in the world is their hurry?

    Mile 2: Breathing easy as I trotted along, I took note of the people around me. I was amazed at the variety of body types represented in the crowd; not exactly what you might picture as ideal. I gained a newfound respect for the effort it must take some people. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t consider myself poetry in motion, but I saw in many individuals so much movement outside the direction of travel that it must take them twice the effort it would otherwise to move the same distance. And, of course, I have to go the bathroom…two miles in.

    Miles 3-4: Very comfortable, heading across the West Shoreway. Got behind a young lady whose out-of-direction-of-travel movement I didn’t mind one bit. Thanks to whoever you are; miles 3 and 4 flew by.

    Mile 5: Still feeling good, and also approaching unchartered waters. Up to that point, I had never run more than 5 miles at once. I was pretty sure I would learn something about myself that day.

    Mile 6: Breathing hard but striding easy. I was surprised I was doing so well.

    Mile 7: I realized the error of my ways. I had run miles 3-6 too fast. What I knew would happen began to hit me in Mile 7: my legs began to tighten up. They were simply not used to the abuse (as if any other part of my body is). I slowed way up in order to achieve my goal that day: run the entire race.

    Mile 8: Systems began to redline as we looped back around the west side of Cleveland and headed back downtown. I no longer had to go the bathroom. My body had realized its rashness in delivering that fluid for excretion and renigged on its offer. I was passed by many of the body types I had noted earlier that seemed ill-fit for running.

    Miles 9-10: Sensory anomalies as I ran east down Detroit Rd. I began to hear noises and my vision was hemmed with red spots. Unlike the start of the race, I was eagerly grabbing cups of water/powerade as I passed by refreshment tables. I did not stop running as I latched onto them; I know myself well enough to know the urge to simply not START again would be too great. My legs were nearly spent, the muscles urging me to stop. Makes sense to me. There was nothing controlled about my breathing.

    Miles 11-12 (the finish): It felt as if my body was shutting down certain systems in order to deliver for me. I am grateful to it. My legs had pretty much checked out. The last two miles consisted of delirium, interspersed with the nagging question of why I didn’t just stop. I did not “finish strong,” as I typically like to do when running. It seemed daunting enough just to continue my perpetual plod across the finish line. The second my stride went from “running” to walking, I teetered. I righted myself as I locked eyes with a worker donning latex gloves. With machismo typical of a male, I mustered enough wherewithal to convey to her the message that I was alright. Given the various sensations in my body at that point, I am not sure if the message was accurate or not.

    The first few post-race minutes had my mind trying to reattach itself to its physical domain, taking stock of the situation. Some diagnostics were run and it came to the conclusion that, yes, I was going to live. I spotted the bananas. Now, I normally think bananas are okay, I guess, but at that moment they looked irresistible. Inexplicably (I don’t know if this a typical craving of a spent body or what), well before I would have thought my body would want food, I had slammed three of them. They tasted delicious.

    Initiative

    Yeah, yeah. So anyone who knows me is going to chuckle at the thought of me writing about initiative, but hear me out.

    I will be the first to admit there are plenty of individuals out there more driven than me; I’m okay with that. But consider this: perhaps my fleeting encounters with initiative provide me a keener insight than some of you who are numb from its constant presence in your life. When I catch a glimpse of initiative, it’s a veritable epiphany, and I take note.

    I will share this with you: whether it’s in regard to your personal or professional life, initiative can be a double-edged sword. Often found associating with the likes of industriousness and diligence, it is a valuable trait, no doubt about it, but consider yourself forewarned with this post. As preposterous as it may seem, initiative is easily and often mistaken by others as enjoyment. As surely as you are driven out of obligation to toil, your determination to see the task complete will be interpreted by some as pleasure for the actual labor! And you know what this leads to, right? Yep, people around you will find themselves hard-put to get between you and that which you enjoy so much; in fact, they may even do you a favor by piling some more on, and there you’ll be.

    So I suggest you approach initiative with caution and wield it delicately, lest you find yourself dubiously distinguished not as diligent or conscientious – and possibly in need of assistance – but as happily enjoying what you do.

    Windows Explorer Folder Shortcuts

    I sometimes like to make shortcuts to various folders on my Windows machine. I am annoyed, though, that when executed, this shortcut brings up an explorer window without the folder tree on the left. I found the solution to this here:

    http://pure-essence.net/2007/01/29/shortcut-with-folder-tree/

    In short, the command line in your shortcut should read

    %SystemRoot%\EXPLORER.EXE /n,/e,d:\

    where “d:\” should be replaced by the path to the file.

    About Hillary (Oh, Alright…and Obama)

    I just can’t get into her. Hillary, I mean. I think much of my sentiment can be summed up by events during a recent visit to my folks’ place on the east side of town.

    I was spending the night and, as is often customary when doing so, headed downstairs to watch some T.V. with my mom before bed. Actually, being the couch-sleeper I am, I likely had no intention of ever making it to bed. But I digress…

    My dad was probably with us initially, too, but he can take about five minutes of television programming involving “talking heads” before excusing himself with a grumble. I think I admire that about him; it’s almost as if he views the babbling of political pundits as a taint upon his hallowed airwaves. Gah…more digressing…

    My mom and I, though, we don’t seem to have quite the disdain for it, especially during election season. I kind of enjoy watching posted election results as the night goes on, particularly with all the graphs and visual aid toys the networks employ these days. And so this night at my folks’ place my mom and I were watching as the results from the Democratic primary of some state or another trickled in. McCain had pretty much staked his claim as the Republican nominee, so most of the buzz was around the Democratic contest. I am not even sure which candidate won the states up for grabs that night, but the time approached for each to address the cameras. Hillary was first.

    I became immediately agitated. I had been sitting in a recliner and suddenly realized that I simply could not get comfortable. My mom was standing up kind of rocking side to side as she watched Hillary speak. I found myself distracted by something on the coffee table and tapped it back and forth with my finger. A minute or two into her speech, I asked my mom if she would mind me flipping through the channels. No. I channel surfed a bit, settling on nothing specific, and made my way back to her speech every few minutes. It wasn’t long before Hillary wrapped things up and the network shifted to a rally for Obama as he prepared for his speech. Time to see what he had to say.

    Man that recliner was comfortable. I set the remote down and sank into the soft, warm cushions as Obama’s words washed over me. We nodded attentively as he continued his personal discourse between the three of us. My mom glanced back at the couch. She walked over to it, grabbed some pillows and a blanket, and proceeded to make a nest on the floor from which to watch him. I was almost disappointed when he concluded his speech. My mom was asleep.

    That’s kind of where I stand. Hillary makes me uncomfortable. Obama makes me want to settle in and hear him tell me that everything is okay. I have tried to listen to what Hillary says – to her “message” – I really have, but I can’t get past a voice and veneer that oozes disingenuousness. I just don’t buy it. Meanwhile, Obama, as fraught with “umm”s and “ah”s as his speeches sometimes are, or partly because of them, feels to me like the genuine article. He is conversational and does not restrict himself to rigid, party-line dialogue and responses. When he speaks, I believe him. And I like him.

    Should one’s perception of sincerity be an appropriate benchmark against which to measure candidates racing to hold the title of the country’s chief diplomat, negotiator, and figurehead? Well, I’m not sure it’s an inappropriate benchmark, anyhow.

    Hillary feels to me like old school politics. She seems to take the classic approach of telling me what she thinks I want to hear. I may be naive, but come on. Throughout the primaries, she has adapted her persona to accommodate what she believes people respond to (in a stroke of irony, even latching onto Obama’s mantra for a change from politics as usual in lieu of touting her political experience). One of her more recent gimmicks is the suspension of the federal gas tax this summer. You know, that whopping 18.4 cents per gallon that goes toward maintaining an aging transportation infrastructure that is already in disrepair. All she needs while making such a pitch is a backdrop of the Interstate 35-W bridge that collapsed in Minnesota last August, killing 13 people. Brilliant, Hillary.

    I guess political promises are made to be broken, that that’s just the way of things, but it doesn’t mean I have to like it.

    Another one of my hang-ups is strictly statistics driven. Here, miracle of miracles, we’re expected to believe that two people worthy of holding (arguably) the most influential position in the country, and perhaps the world, happen to be married to one another. What are the chances? Pretty nil. There’s a better chance that neither is so deserving of the office. At any rate, I’ll pass on the dynasty, thanks. I don’t believe it’s good for the country and I’m not about to make an exception for the Clintons.

    Of course, this post is largely irrelevant since Ron Paul will be running away with the general election in November.

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