Hair: All a Dad Really Needs

19 03 2010
  • My four year old daughter’s first words to me this morning were, “I love you Dad.”  After returning the sentiment, I asked what it is she likes about me. She said, after a moment’s pause, “Your hair looks good.”  If only I’d known it could be so simple.  I could have saved myself the stress of worrying about being a good role model, setting boundaries and providing some tough love when necessary.  All I really needed was to make sure I have enough hair gel.
  • Cheating on Sandra Bullock is kind of like having a brand new Porsche and thinking, “This car just isn’t good enough.”
  • Hurray for the “little guy.”  Go Murray State and Ohio University.  Keep up the good work in the NCAA tournament!
  • I’m so thankful for my wonderful family.  I had lunch with most of late mother’s sisters and one of her brothers and one of my cousins this past week.  They are wonderful, open-hearted people, and it’s like being able to have lunch with my mom again.  Like many whose parents have passed, I wish I would have had lunch with my mom more often than I did as an adult (especially if she had made it…mmm!), but there are so many similarities between my mother and her sisters that I feel blessed to have the aunts still in my life.  (One of them gave me some holy water to use on my swollen legs, which I thought was very touching!
  • I love that spring is near and that it is sunny and 70 degrees here today.  Cardinal baseball can’t be too far away.
  • I resisted the Facebook craze for a long time and still find myself annoyed at status updates like, “I’ve been cleaning my floors today” or messages giving me the thrilling news that someone scored 8 billion points on a game called “Pork N Bean Shuffle.”  However, I am really enjoying a couple of rekindled high school friendships and am thankful to Facebook for them.  With all the crappy news we hear every day, it’s nice to know there are still some good people out there.




Area Restaurant Implementing Controversial Ideas in Effort to Go Green

8 03 2010

Elmer Huggest, owner of the restaurant, O’Grady’s Garden in Indiana, plans to do his part to save the planet by implementing some new policies at his eating establishment.  Some are pretty basic; others are a little more radical.

“It’s time we take a stand and do the right thing,” Huggest stated.  “There is so much food and energy waste in restaurants in this country, and I’m going to do something about it.”  Huggest, a retired gold prospector purchased the restaurant in 2005 and has been trying to come up with ideas to “go green” ever since.

O’Grady’s Garden will be closed this week as the staff makes major changes to the place.  The first work done will be to change all lighting to energy-saving flourescent bulbs.  The restaurant will also use significantly less lighting.  Huggest admits that some patrons may complain the restaurant is too dark but believes his customers will understand once they are informed of the new “green” policies. In addition, all the cooking and refrigeration appliances are being replaced with more energy-efficient models.

Other changes, however, may be more noticeable to customers.  In an effort to save paper, menus will be printed on small, playing-card sized menus.  Huggest realizes that these menus will be more difficult to read but believes this will not be a problem because a magnifying glass will be placed on every table to assist customers.

The napkins are changing as well.  Huggest proudly proclaimed, “We were fortunate enough to find a supplier in China who makes edible napkins.  They are made of some sort of plant fibers and come in two flavors:  Banana and Plum.”  This will cut down on washing costs and may also serve as a sort of replacement for dessert for our patrons.  I tried one, and they are very filling.”  Along the same lines, silverware will not necessarily be washed after each use.  “We’re going to have our staff inspect each piece of silverware when a table clears, and pieces that are deemed to be ‘not that dirty’ will simply be wiped once and placed back on the table.  This is a true ‘green’ innovation.”

Huggest also believes that restaurants waste energy in the form of heating and air conditioning.  “We’re going to go as natural as possible.  The heat will only come on if the restaurant temperature goes below 50, and the air will only be used when it’s above 85 in the dining room.  We think this can be comfortable as long as customers dress appropriately to the season.”

Servers will save paper by no longer writing down customer food orders and instead will be required to memorize them.  “We’ll probably have a few more mistakes on orders in the beginning since most of our servers are young and from the local community college,” Huggest admitted.  “I realize some of them are not the sharpest tools in the shed, but it’s all going to be worth it once they get the hang of things…eventually.”

Huggest also is removing the restaurant’s sound system meaning there will be no light music for ambiance.  He believes that is a waste of energy but has other ideas to provide a pleasant dining experience.  “My 14-year-old daughter plays the piccolo and will be available to sit in the corner and play most evenings.  Also, we’re very proud to announce that Corey Hart will play in the dining room on the first Thursday of every month.”  Corey Hart had the 1980′s hit song, “I Wear My Sunglasses at Night.”

Previously, O’Grady’s had a policy of handing out coloring paper and crayons to children diners.  This will be cut out, but children will have an opportunity to play in a large sandbox in the middle of the dining room while waiting for their food.  “I think they are going to just love that,” Huggest said.

Not all of the noticeable changes will be confined to the dining room.  Public Restroom policies are also being affected.  “The water faucets have been programmed to provide running water for only two seconds.  When it shuts off, it will not be able to be turned back on for a full minute.  We’re very proud of our efforts to cut out the unnecessary waste of water.  We also ask that our customers follow the old addage, If it’s yellow, let it mellow; if it’s brown, flush it down.”  Huggest added that the restaurant is considering having servers check the toilets immediately after customers use them and reserve the right to evict anyone from the restaurant who flushes “only urine.”

There will also be some big changes relating to the actual food.  For example, the restaurant’s signature steaks will no longer be available “well-done.”  Huggest stated that cooking meat for an extra couple of minutes to get them “well-done” is simply a waste of electricity and will not be allowed.  “We feel that medium is plenty done enough.  People will get used to it.”

Drink spills by customers will be handled differently as well.  Servers will quickly try to “scoop” any amount of drink that can be saved back into patrons’ glasses.  There will be a “fine” added on to the bill for every ounce of drink that cannot be saved.

“Fines” will also be applied when customers do not finish all their food.  The price of the “fine” will depend on the type and amount of the food.  Huggest says a reduced “fine” will be applied when customers ask for take-home boxes for leftovers.  “It’s all well and good if they want to take leftovers home, but we can’t be sure they won’t throw the food away at home or even accidentally leave the carry-out box on top of their cars when they drive off.  Therefore, a small fine is in order.”

Huggest believes that children are the biggest wasters of food.  He is changing the kid’s meal as a result.  “The kid’s meal will now consist of a few slices of prune, one saltine cracker and a 1.5 ounce juice box whose container is made completely of recycled material.  Since the meal is a lot smaller than it used to be, customers will be happy to hear that we are reducing the price by ten cents.”

The restaurant will also attempt to reuse some food left behind on customer plates.  Huggest realizes this idea is “different” but believes it is necessary in today’s world.  “We’re going to cut out any bite marks and inspect food to see how much can be recycled.  We’ll then put it on our ‘second chance’ buffet which patrons can eat from for a reduced price.  We think we are pioneers and that many, many other restaurants will be doing this type of thing in the near future.”

When asked if this is sanitary, Huggest stated that the restaurant is committed to providing a healthy environment.  “Since we will be reusing some food, it will be necessary to take the temperature of every customer as they arrive.  Anyone with a fever will be denied entrance.  Also, our host staff will be taking a good look at every customer who is trying to come in, and only clean-looking people who look like they don’t have any diseases will be admitted.  Additionally, servers will go around the dining room and spray hefty doses of Lysol every ten minutes.  We want our customers to know we care about their good health.”

Finally, the restaurant’s popular frozen margaritas will no longer be available.  “It just wastes too much ice,” Huggest said.

Jenna McQuire, a long-time patron of O’Grady’s is not happy about this last change. “If I don’t get my Friday night mango margarita, I’m going to kill someone,” she ranted.

Customers are certainly in for some changes at the establishment.  “I think they’ll understand in the long run,” Huggest said.  “What good is a restaurant if we end up living in an post-apocalyptic world where people are beating each other with sticks trying to get at the last drops of water on earth.  Now you think about that.”





Why I’m Pulling for the Saints in the Super Bowl

5 02 2010

New Orleans suffered one of the worst heartbreaking disasters that has ever occurred in the United States.  The city is today still attempting to recover from the unspeakable horrors caused by Hurricane Katrina nearly five years ago.  Many great people in the area have refused to let scenes like these kill their spirit or their optimism.

There are heroes like Norman Francis, an African American man born in 1931 in Lafayette, Louisiana.  His father was a barber who rode a bike to work every day because the family could not afford a car.  His mother was a homemaker.  They were poor, but Norman later said he never realized it. (Further proof that money is way overrated).  He shined shoes as a young boy.  His parents emphasized the importance of a good education and made certain that Norman attended and took it seriously.

As it turns out, they needn’t have worried.  Norman Francis did take school seriously, and he went on to attend Xavier University in New Orleans, where he worked in the library repairing damaged books.  Ironic, since he would go on to be a central figure in the repairing of the whole city.  In the 50s, he became the first African American accepted to the Loyola University Law School in New Orleans.

A couple of years later, he returned to Xavier University to begin his professional career, starting as Dean of Men.  He was instrumental in providing dorm rooms for “Freedom Riders” whose bus had been attacked in Alabama during the Civil Rights Movement.  He quickly moved up the ranks at Xavier and became the university’s president in 1968.  He is still in that role today and is the longest tenured University President in the nation.  He has spent his life working to improve the lives of those around him and is the chair of the Louisiana Recovery Authority, whose primary responsibility is to help the region recover and rebuild in the aftermath of Katrina.

He has received commendations from Nelson Mandela, Pope John Paul II and two United States Presidents, among others.  In 2006, he received this nation’s highest award for a civilian, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  When receiving it, he said, “These are the sorts of things that happen in one’s lifetime that you never expect.  I accept it for all the people who made this possible, whose shoulders I’m standing on and who helped me be encouraged to work hard and to serve the career that I chose. They all are part of this award. It’s not for me alone.”

He has loved and worked for the people of a city that has seen so much sadness and despair for the last five years and now is bristling with excitement over their Super Bowl team.  Sports (though I love them) don’t matter much in the big scheme of things, but the Saints have an opportunity to bring  joy to a region that deserves it right now, and I hope that they do.

They can go from this:  to this:

Oh yeah, Norman Francis, a lifelong sports fan, was one of the initial members of the ownership group who brought the NFL to New Orleans, and one of the only minority ones as well.  He’s been waiting over 40 years for a Super Bowl Championship to come to the city he loves.  The Saints may be a five point underdog to the Colts, but this city has been an underdog since Katrina swept through in 2005, and they haven’t given up yet.  Go Saints.

Norman Francis:





One Screwy Year Later

29 01 2010

I’m no blog expert, but I’m pretty sure it’s poor blog management when you “disappear” and pen nothing new in three months, six months, nine months, or (choking gasp) nearly one full year.  I have been charged with the following offenses:  Blog abandonment, neglect of a diary-like webspace, and being a blog-block.  I am here to readily admit to being guilty of these crimes, which are considered felonies in the justice system of the blogosphere.  Unsure of the punishment I deserve, I face you, the jury and give the following defense:

A conglomeration of events occurred, causing my creative energy to be squelched.  Some of you may remember that I was chronicling the mystery swelling that was wrecking my physical health.  (Unfortunately, it is still undiagnosed and is not improved, but I am dealing with it and currently trying some extreme dieting ideas to try to pinpoint the problem myself).  At some point, there simply were no more words to say about it and no good news to report.  I didn’t want the blog to be a wallowing pity party, and it was becoming clear that there was not a solution coming any time soon.  That was event number one.

Around a year ago, my then wife decided that she could not handle my illness any longer and informed me she had filed for a divorce.  There were some signs (big ones, actually), but it was still a shock.  I certainly felt betrayed.  That was event number two, which actually counts as about one million events rolled into one since I was worried about what this would do to my daughter, custody issues, quickly finding a new house, selling ours, figuring out how to afford health insurance, etc.

I’ve certainly thought about my blog since then, but I just didn’t know what to do with it.  I considered deleting it.  I considered moving some of the past entries into a brand new blog.  Most of all, I just couldn’t stomach coming to it.  Until now.  I am ready.  I love my new house.  My daughter is incredibly inspiring (I do have co-custody and have her half the time), and I am a happy person at peace (except for the health issue, of course).  My faith is strongly intact.  I decided to keep the blog the way it was, sans a couple of “couple” pictures and some obvious updates that were needed “about me” in light of the situation.  I could go back and delete any entries where I praised my wife or that sort of thing, but the reality is that whatever I wrote at that time was the truth in my world at that moment so I’m leaving it alone.

So I guess I’m back in case there are two or three people out there who give a crap whether this blog exists or not and are willing to forgive my neglect instead of tossing me in blog solitary confinement.  By the way, this will not be a blog to rip my ex.  She’s a good mother; that’s all that matters to me about her anymore.  We’re on friendly terms.  I’ve chosen for the sake of my daughter and my own peace of mind not to be bitter.  That will be the last said about that by me.

My daughter, nearing kindergarten age, seems to be taking everything in stride.  I am very thankful for this.  She is the light of my being, and I never want to see her hurt.  She is currently obsessed with the idea of me marrying Trish from the television show “Clean House.”  At least she seems to have good taste!  Oh, and my daughter just asked me to be her Valentine.  Life is beautiful.

It’s good to be here and to get reacquainted with you.  Hi, I’m Matt.





A Swell(ing) Journey Part IV (Update in comments)

14 03 2008

There may actually be an answer in sight to the crazy, severe swelling that has knocked me for a loop for the past month. A few things have transpired since Part III.

1. The MRI, unfortunately, did not discover the cause of the swelling.

2. The heavy doses of the water pill have helped, a little, to at least give me some relief and improved movement and energy. It has not been enough to be able to return to work or go back to “normal” but has been enough to allow me to do a few more things out of the house. The main problem with this, of course, is that it is just symptom relief. The other frustrating thing is that one day there will be some improvement and the next day a step back.

3. From doing my own research about a blood pressure drug that I have been taking (or more specifically, my switch to its generic version not long ago), it was determined to be worth a shot to change medications. It is POSSIBLE this is the culprit. I am still hopeful this could help, and the medication switch just happened in the past couple of days. The doctor thought it might take several days to see a difference.

4. My wife, daughter and family continue to find ways to become even bigger sources of joy and happiness, and I do not want anyone to think I am spending all of my time in despair. I have my bad moments, but, overall, life is still a splendid thing. I watched my daughter frolic and smile and even take turns on a playground yesterday in a manner that elicited a compliment from another parent, and my heart is still full from the experience.

Despite my hopes that the medication change might just fix everything, a different answer may be slowly coming to light. Today (actually just within the past hour), I received a call from the Louisville doctor’s office about my latest labs (blood was drawn yesterday afternoon). As many of you know, I received a kidney transplant (due to a kidney disease) about five years ago. The possibility that something (possibly kidney rejection) was going on with the transplanted kidney was, of course, a leading candidate as a cause for the swelling. However, lab after lab over a three-week period continued to indicate that the kidney was pumping along, happy and healthy. This prompted a barrage of other possibilities and tests (see Parts I, II, and III for more), which eventually showed healthy heart, vascular and liver function, among other things. Basically, more and more potential causes were ruled out. During this time, the doctors seemed to continue to suspect the kidney, but the labs and tests kept indicating otherwise.

Well, the labs from yesterday finally pointed to a potential chink in the armor of the kidney. The creatinine level that shows how well your kidney is cleaning out your blood, finally worsened a bit. It was worse than it has been since a couple weeks after the transplant in 2003. It was enough that the doctor wants the lab repeated on Monday.

Though kidney trouble is certainly not what I’m hoping for, it would be preferable to me to at least know what has been causing me to have a bloated lower half. Even if it’s the worst case scenario, I believe that there is possible treatment for kidney rejection, and that it does not necessarily mean immediate loss of the kidney. The labs for Monday are scheduled. Best case scenario: It is possible that yesterday’s lab was just an anomaly. It is possible that the creatinine change is due only to the fact that I’m taking the water pill, and maybe the blood pressure med switch will solve the swelling.

I will keep you posted. I will continue to appreciate your thoughts and prayers, and I will have a lot of fun this weekend with my family. I have a nephew coming to town. We’ve always been close, but he’s lived pretty far away for many years now. It will be fun to see him.

p.s. Here is an actual pic of the kidney I stole received from my sister:

It’s sad to think my own body might be attacking something so adorable.





How to Scare People at Wal-Mart

7 03 2008

Those of you who come here often know that I am hobbling around with swollen legs and feet right now. Mostly, I’m stuck in the house, except for fun-filled trips to various radiology places for MRIs, CTs and other interesting initials. Basically, I’m able to make one little outing a day before feeling pretty wiped out. Yesterday, however, was a test-free day. Since a winter weather blast was soon to pummel nearly the entire Midwest, I made the decision to hit the Super Wal-Mart. We needed just a few items to tide us over, and this was the one store where I could get everything I needed in one place.

Due to my current condition and the fact I was going in the middle of the day on a work day for most people, I made the bad decision to venture out of the house in the following condition:

- I did not shave

- I made only a half-hearted attempt to fix my morning hair

- I wore my relatively out-of-style glasses instead of bothering with contacts.

- I wore a sweatshirt and sweatpants. The sweatshirt is decent. The sweatpants, however, are awful. They are very worn. They are baggy. They are the homeless-man, mentally-ill man, “Ma’am-can-you-spare-a-dollar”-man kind of sweatpants.

[My wife sketched it here.]

As if this was not bad enough, one of the few items I needed to buy was a package of small girl’s underwear. Our toddler is in the potty training phase, and we needed more.

As if this was not bad enough, you need to know that I take shopping seriously. I’m not a just-grab-what-you-need-and-throw-it-in-the-cart kind of guy. I’m married to a CPA so I compare prices, quality, etc. In addition to this, our toddler is a bit fussy about clothing. This was not a simple decision. I had to find primarily pink ones, or she might throw a fit about it. I had to weigh the options between tagless or not. I looked at the material, etc.

So, there I was, scary and all criminal-looking, in the middle of a normal work day, standing, unshaven, in the little girls’ underwear aisle, with a couple of packages in hand, studying.

After a minute or two, I began to notice mothers steering their children away from me. I decided I better just pick one before I had to have a conversation with a dreaded Wal-Mart security person. I wanted to shout, “It’s okay. I have a daughter and a job. I’m just sick.” However, I’m afraid it would have been only the last three words that would have stuck out.

I made a quicker-than-I-would-have-liked selection and got out of there.

Luckily, the other items I needed were not at all suspicious (milk, bread, etc.) Can you imagine if, by chance, we had also needed things like rope or binoculars? Yikes, I think I would have been detained.

I’ll just stay home today.





A Swell(ing) Journey Part III

3 03 2008

The MRI was finally approved by my insurance company. I’ll be having it this afternoon. It will take a day (or maybe two) to get results and then decide what can be done. I’ll let you guys know. Thanks again for the positive thoughts.

looks like a good time!








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