Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Tooth Fairy Changes My Tire

Walked out the door, and discovered that I wasn't driving the Jeep to the train station: flat tire.  Bad timing.  Thanksgiving is tomorrow, then I'm working in the hospital, Friday, so I can't get to it until I get home. 

Friday afternoon rolls around, and after walking the Basset Hound, it's time to change a tire, while the sun is still up. 

CAVEAT: I have changed flat tires on this Jeep several times, with the same jack that I keep in the back.  The jack that I bought the day I bought the Jeep.  I have used that jack in the the deserts of Arizona, and the jungles of central Mexico.

Well, the jack got tired and old.  It can't get up as high as it used to.  It needs a Tireagra pill.  After struggling with the jack, finally getting the tire off, it was time to stick the new tire on.

That's when the Jeep rolled away.

I jumped up and yelled, "WHOA!!!" so loud that the wife ran out the kitchen door. 

You know those stupid little wedges that come with the car jack, that you're supposed to put under the tires, to keep the car from rolling away while you change a tire?  This is the first time in my life that I didn't bother, so of course, the car rolled.  Fortunately, the Jeep only rolled about one foot. 

Problem was, the car had collapsed onto the new tire, and now the car was too low for me to get a jack under it, to start over.

Thank god for AAA.  Well, that was emasculating.  Brandon--the AAA dude--was the size of a tow truck.  He whips out a jack that looked like mine, on steroids.  He hefts it, and says, "Five hundred dollars." 

Wow...I want one of those!

To further add to my humiliation, after Brandon lifted the Jeep, he pulled out my spare that was jammed under the Jeep, and asked, "Why'd you want to put this spare on, with no air in it?"

Um...where do I go to hand in my testicles?

On the other hand, my son became a man, today.  Tonight, while doing his homework (can you believe they give kindergarteners math homework?) he suddenly stopped and exclaimed, "Hey!  My tooth fell out!"  and dived under the table to retrieve it.
The wife fell asleep with him and his sister, without putting some money under his pillow.  Tooth Fairy, you're fired.  Now I need to drive to the bank, and get some money from the ATM.  I'm taking his tooth with me.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Egy szemet japan siraly, es egy szemet magyar bortonrab.

Hihetetlen. Amikor megjelent ez a siraly egy par hettel ezelott, egy hetfoi napon talaltak meg delben, es pont 11:55kor neztem meg utoljara a drotpostaimat.  Ha megneztem volna barmikor aznap delutan, siman leszaladhattam volna Long Beach-be, es letviccseltem volna a madarat. 

Kinaban lattam beloluk tucatnyit egy mocsaras teruleten, de mindig vagy messze voltak, vagy elrepultek a fejem felett.   Ez a long beachi madar visszont azon szorakozott, hogy akarhanyszor beugrottam a kocsiba, es lehajtottam a 80 kilmetert /egyiranyt/ akkor eppen elrepult a madar, mielott odaerkeztem.

Rohadt szemet japan madar!

Na, tegnap este dolgoztam a mentoosztalyon, es ott volt a mobiltelefonomon az uzenet d.e. 4kor:  tiz nappal azutan, hogy utoljara eszleltek a madarat, ugyan ott ult a kikotoben, ahol eredetileg.  Na, ejfelig dolgoztam, hazamentem, es k.b. 5 ora alvas utan felpattantam az agybol, es irany Long Beach. 

Black-tailed Gull (Larus crassirostris) Long Beach, Kalifornia

Jo, mondjuk eloszor idegesito volt, hogy nem volt sehol a madar, amikor odaerkeztem ma reggel.  Dagaly volt, igy nem is volt hol pihenjen a madar.  Jaj.  ez a negyedik alkalom.   Na, erre fel amikor visszandultam a kocsimhoz akkor kerult elo a madar.   Ott alltunk, es bongesztuk egy ideig.

Tegnap este jo poen volt a mentoosztalyon:  kilott a nyomtato egy papirt, amin kertek rongtenek egy ferfirol, es a ferfinek jo magyar neve volt.  Egeszen izgatott lettem.  Hihetetlenul ritkan latok magyar beteget los angelesi korhazakban.  Nagy buszken odasetaltam ahoz a szobahoz ahol a magyar ferfi fekudt, es egy rikito narancs-szinu borton rab egyenruhaban, bilincsben, ott fekudt a magyar betegem.   Ket fegyveres borton or orizte.  Kurva nagy.  A fazon tetotol-talpig tetovalva volt u.n. "bortoni tetovak"-kal.

Termeszetesen arrol, hogy en is magyar vagyok, hallgattam mint szar a fuben.

Na, befejezem ezt a 400 oldalas konyvet amit olvasok Nixon-nak az 1972-es utjarol Kinaba.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

But I Really Love Technology

Napoleon Dynamite is a hysterically funny movie.  Those of us who had the brains to stay in the movie theater through the closing credits got to see Napoleon's older brother singing, "But I really Love Technology" at his wedding.

Well, I don't really love technology, this week.  This has been the week where reliance on technology has been the (near-) death of me.

Photo credit jomilo 75
Wow, it's a gull that looks like a pigeon, and it eats dead seals!

Sunday I made a successful suicide run for the Ivory Gull at Pismo Beach (After getting home from the hospital Saturday night, listening to Maggie cough all night, and not getting any sleep, I left Claremont at 03:00 a.m., drove 225 miles to Pismo Beach, watched the Ivory Gull for 20 minutes, drove the 225 miles back to Claremont, arrived home at 11:57 a.m., took a one hour nap, took a shower, and went to work at the hospital from 3:00 to 11:30 p.m.  Part way through the shift, at 8:00 p.m. I drove to the local Starbucks, and sat there drinking a grande mocha, muttering "I'm not gonna last four more hours! I'm not gonna last four more hours!").

My wife was pissed at me for chasing the Ivory Gull (she wanted me to babysit the kids so that she could study at the library), but man, it was worth it!  I never thought I'd see an Ivory Gull.  The only other time an Ivory Gull has ever been seen in California was in Orange County 15 years ago, and that bird was around for one afternoon.  Some claim that the bird was sick i.e. dying, so it flew off to sea to die.  I remember what really happened:  some knuckleheads went out onto the beach at midnight with a searchlight, determined to get Ivory Gull for a state bird.  In the process of doing so, they also made sure that the rest of us who were going to go in the morning wouldn't see the bird.  Now people deny that ever happened.  Ah, baloney.

Any way, I stayed home from work, Monday, because Maggie was sick, and couldn't go to school.  I casually checked my emails before lunch, but really, why check my emails?  There couldn't possibly be anything as good as an Ivory Gull around, and I already saw it, yesterday.

That's how I missed the Black-tailed Gull.

Ed Stonick told me about it at 8:00 Monday night, after a herd of birders ran out to Long Beach, and saw it.    There's no honor among thieves, and apparently there is also no reciprocity among birders. I've called lots of birders lots of times when a good bird showed up, but this time nobody called me up.  Nobody.  Well, I've seen Black-tailed Gulls in China, but would have been really to see one in California--and L.A. County, to boot.

I promised a researcher at USC that I would mail the paperwork--registering his new x-ray machine with the State--by Friday.  If you buy any kind of x-ray machine in California, you have 30 days to register it with the State Radiologic Health Branch, by filling out a form called an RHB 2261.  The idiots at the State put the form on-line as a PDF that you can't save.  You have to sit at a computer with a reliable connection to (a) the internet and (b) a printer.  After you have filled out the form, you have to print it; but you can't save a copy of the PDF on your computer.  Why they decided to lock the form, I have no idea.  It makes no sense, whatsoever.  So I spent some time Friday morning filling the form out, with the intention of going straight to the post office, and mailing it, myself.  My computer couldn't get it to print.  Instead, it kept insisting on first saving the document as a ".xps".   What the hell is a .xps???  Well, whatever a .xps is, since the idiots at the RHB set up their PDF so that you can't save their RHB 2261 form, and my computer refused to cooperate, unless I first saved the RHB 2261 as a .xps, I was dead in the water.

That's when the typhoid hit.  Or cholera.  I'm not sure. 

Feeling better, this weekend, so I pulled another suicide run, and chased the Taiga Bean Goose that showed up at the Salton Sea.  Wow.  That's one of those birds that has flown over from Siberia to the Aleutians a few times.  None of us ever expected one to show up in California.  In 1985 one showed up in Nebraska.  Wow.  Can you imagine flying from Siberia to Nebraska?

Middendorf's i.e.  "Taiga" Bean Goose
Photo Credit: Ed Stonick

I got greedy, and tried driving down the road to find Neotropic Cormorant at Fig Lagoon.  Of course, I failed for the third year in a row.

That was two life birds in less than a week.  That's hard for a world traveler like me to pull off.  Add the Purple Gallinule, and that adds up to three life birds this fall, along with the two Hudsonian Godwits this spring that were California birds.  I don't know the exact number, but I've seen well over 500 species of birds in California, and the occasional appearance of completely unexpected birds like Ivory Gull and Bean Goose leaves me wondering what else could possibly show up?


So I figured, let me drive in to USC, this weekend, and try using somebody else's computer to fill out that RHB 2261 (remember, you have to write everything all over again, every time). I got to the medical school campus, and let myself into the office, there (my office is at the main campus in downtown), where I booted up the shared computer in the conference room.  After two & a half hours of collecting the right data, and carefully figuring out how to phrase everything so that the good people at the RHB won't get confused, it was time to print.

I couldn't print.

The geniuses in my department have the shared computer set up with drivers for a bunch of printers that no longer exist, and no drivers for any of the printers that currently exist in the office.


Hours of work down the drain.

Out of desperation, I typed furiously, copying all of the information onto my laptop, and told it to tell the printers in the room to print the form.  Nothing happened.

Well, I needed to leave, to get to work, on time at the hospital, at my other job.  The USC IT guy called me up while I was on the 10 Freeway, half-way home, and informed me that since I was using my laptop's wireless modem without the VPN turned on, my data wouldn't be authenticated, so the local prnters were refusing to accept and print my work.


So I got to the hospital, and was promptly informed that the entire network was down.  This is why I have grave fears about our over-reliance on digital technology.  Work at the hospital slowed to a trickle.  In the modern American hospital, you can't fart without logging in to a computer system, and using multiple systems, each with a separate log-in and password.  All it takes is a power outage or server crash and everything grounds to a loud, screeching, painful halt.

I don't know who I hate more: Bill Gates, or Neotropic Cormorants.

The coup de grĂ¢ce was the last patient of the day.  I had my suspicions about him.  He claimed to have a screw loose.  He was right.  The screw that he was referring to was a surgical screw holding a broken bone together.  X-rays didn't show anything, but he declared that he was ready for his turkey sandwhich that we have to give him. 

Then he says to me, while I'm taking him back to the ER, "Hey, since I'm getting admitted, make sure I don't have to share a room with no black dudes."

Oh. My. God.

Allow me to state the obvious.  Here's the problem:  I'm a medical professional, and he's a patient, so I can't tell him to shove it up his ass.

Gears started spinning in my brain.  Think, Miko, think!  I need to come up with a clever, strong, articulate response with which to shame this moron who is stuck in the 1950s.

I couldn't.  The best I could come up with (remember, I'm in scrubs, and on the clock) was, "That's illegal!  And...it's not very nice."

I wanted to tell him to fuck off, but in the interest of remaining employed at Little Sisters of the Eternal Biker Tattoo (all of the patients, and some of the employees have tattoos) I kept on rolling.

Then he stated the obvious, "I was in prison with a lot of them."


The real surprise was in store for him:  the ER doc is an African immigrant who speaks fluent French.  I would have given my left testicle to see the look on his eyes when the doc walked up to him and said, "Hello, I am Dr Obuto!  What's going on with your shoulder?"

Friday, November 5, 2010

Law & Order Los Angeles: a surprisingly good TV show

I have a confession to make:  I finally watched "Law and Order Los Angeles" solely for the purpose of seeing how bad it is, so that I could dismiss it as being a superficial, sad resurrection of the original "Law and Order" (New York).

I only know four of the actors' names: Peter Coyote, Alfred Molina, Skeet Ulrich, and Terrence Howard.  Howard was the reason I gave the show a look: I am still stunned by his Oscar-worthy performance in "Crash" as the black husband forced to seethe passively in helpless anger while a white cop gropes his wife.  Crash also forced me to reevaluate Matt Dillon ("Hey!  He can act!") 

As for Ulrich, I decided that he's Robert Ulrich's son, until I remembered that his name was Urich, and not Ulrich.  Whoops.

Enough silliness.  Each episode that I have seen of Law and Order Los Angeles leaves me thinking, "Well, they can't top that.  Now they've shot their screenwriting wad.  They'll never write another episode this good."  Then the following week proves me wrong.  The stories are smart, but not overly-clever; and the acting is intense, but not over-done. 

The thing that I like best about the show is that several of the characters are morally ambiguous--and these are the good guys.  It's like they dragged Tolstoy out of the grave, and told him to write a cop show.  Peter Coyote is the perfect choice for the politically ambitious District Attorney who makes no pretense of caring about the people of Los Angeles County.  His weekly battles with Howard--who keeps forcing him against his wishes to do the right thing--make the show.

As for Howard--wow, what can I say.  I keep waiting for him to either break down in tears, or punch Peter Coyote in the nose.

NBC needs to offer the writers of this show a lot of money to stay on.  I don't want this show to be good the first year, and then sink when they hire less expensive replacements for Season Two.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Chupacabra and Dumb American Voters

    An hour after voting, last night, I walked the Basset Hound, and she suddenly went on the alert.  I knew why: she had detected one of our local suburban coyotes.  The coyote reminded me of one of our previous Basset Hounds, Milhouse, who had the mange, which of course reminded me of a report on NPR's Science Friday about scientists' latest theory on  Chupacabras: they're mangy coyotes.

     What does this have to do with the Republicans?  Everything.  The long and the short of it is this: we live in a country where people believe in the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot, UFOs, and Chupacabras.  We imported the Chupacabra from Latin America, and added it to our pantheon of embarrassing beliefs. 

     So, I've been shaking my head, depressed about the Republican tidal wave, and how they're going to go out of their way over the next two years to not allow Obama to do anything, so that they can then scream about how he hasn't done anything.  The thing that has been bothering me is this:  Obama has only been president for two years, voters are jumping up and down screaming about the decifict, jobs & the economy, and they think that the solution is to hand back the reins to the same crooks and idiots who drove us over the cliff's edge?


     Then it hit me:  These are the same voters who re-elected* W after it was clearly established that there were no MWD, and he and Tricky Dick lied to get us into Iraq. These are the same voters who believe that Elvis is working as a bag boy at the Piggly Wiggly in Ashland, because they read about it in the World News. 

*If you want to quibble and say that he was never elected the first time, and that Gore should have become the president, my response is this:  Gore should have won that election in a landslide.  I mean, come on:  an educated intellectual policy wonk interested in science ran against an aw-shucks dummy from Texas.  The fact that the voters of this country didn't look at W and say, "Wow, what a moron," is a poor reflection of the populace.