Facing the Firing Squad

Walter Mitty lighted a cigarette. It began to rain, rain with sleet in it. He stood up against the wall of the drugstore, smoking… He put his shoulders back and his heels together. “To hell with the handkerchief,” said Walter Mitty scornfully. He took one last drag on his cigarette and snapped it away. Then, with that faint, fleeting smile playing about his lips, he faced the firing squad; erect and motionless, proud and disdainful, Walter Mitty the Undefeated, inscrutable to the last.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
James Thurber

That was me the other day. I was the one facing the firing squad. Over the years, a clot silently developed in one of the arteries that feed my heart, threatening the flow of oxygen to this vital muscle, and threatening the flow of my daily life.

This past Saturday, I learned about its existence. This is a recount of what happened. I will post more on this topic, shorter posts covering smaller aspects of my experience, and what it’s like to be a heart patient so soon in life, in a new category, “Heart Attack.”

It’s still hard for me to imagine that at the tender, young age of 51, I am writing here about me, about my experience with heart disease.

The Event

I woke up early on Saturday morning, about 7:30, a bit uncomfortable. I went to the bathroom, drained myself of the previous night’s beer, and returned to bed.

I couldn’t get comfortable, and couldn’t sleep. I rose, even more uncomfortable, about an hour later. I felt an internal pressure, in my body, and figured that I had eaten something the night before that didn’t agree with me. That explained the clammy sweat and the tension.

It didn’t explain the increase of pressure over the next 20 minutes.

I told my wife that something was wrong, that I felt funny. She asked me if I was having a heart attack. I seriously didn’t think so, but since my symptoms were close, I decided I wouldn’t rule it out.

I decided to take a shower, to see if I could get the “clammies” off my skin. Just getting my clothes together was a trip: the tension in my chest was slowly increasing, and the acts of sitting or lying down made things worse. I found myself kneeling on all fours in front of my closet as I looked for a shirt and jeans.

Something was definitely not right. As fear started creeping in, I realized that I was into this far too deeply to panic now, so it would be best to see what I *could* do…

The shower failed to do what I wanted. Again, my bride asked me if I was having a heart attack, and if I wanted to go to the Emergency Room. I told her that I was unsure, and to go ahead and take a shower; I’d let her know later.

As she showered, I knew I had to go. She was quick, and once she was ready, we left. It was 9:20 a.m. During the ride I can remember only thinking, “Oh, shit. This is not good.”

In short, here were my symptoms: I felt pressure throughout my chest, making my breathing difficult, and this pressure radiated down my arms to my wrists; it radiated upward through my neck to my jaw, all tingly-like, feeling similar to when you go outside on a cold day and your glands swell and drop just a little too far. I had the clammy sweats. I felt rubbery, yet tense. Attempts at relaxation only made it worse; I paced the living room to release the stress. I can’t remember any other aches or pains, or if my vision was affected at all; these I list are the only ones I can — or need to — recall.

Meridia Euclid Cleveland Clinic

The fastest way to get people to move quickly, as a middle-aged man, is to walk into your local ER and tell them your chest “feels tight.”

They took my insurance card, I told them my wife was following me in, and they led me back into the ER. They hooked my right arm to an IV stump for later use, took my blood, blood pressure, temperature, and started asking me a ton of questions. They did not give my nitro-glycerin or aspirin. The attack faded, on its own, about 11:00 a.m.

ER heart attack protocol sets a number of tests in motion, among which are numerous blood tests, an electrocardiogram (EKG), and a couple of chest X-rays. The blood tests were the only thing marginally conclusive, at first: my Troponin level was initially 0.02, which indicates something happening. A reading of 0.10 indicates heart attack-level heart damage. The ER staff decided at this point that I would be staying overnight for observation.

Subsequent blood tests that day revealed that my Troponin level had increased to 0.05, then 0.07. On Sunday morning, they tested my blood again, and the Troponin level reached 0.17. Within an hour or so, I was hooked up on the blood thinner Heparin, (which required that I have a blood test every 4 hours).

I knew something was up on Sunday morning when I got up to take a walk — and was ushered straight back to bed.

Because there were no cardiologists available at Meridia Euclid that weekend, they had to transfer me to either the main campus of the Cleveland Clinic, or to Hillcrest in Mayfield.

We chose Hillcrest due to proximity. It turned out later that Hillcrest has a better reputation for heart than the main campus, which is better with infectious diseases and cancer. Excellent for heart (let’s face it, if you’re in my position, you can’t do better than any Cleveland Clinic campus!), but better elsewhere.

So, later on Sunday, I took my first ride in an ambulance. No, I didn’t ask for them to turn on the siren or the lights. And I didn’t exactly feel like a 7-year-old right then either — well, at least beyond the idea that I was in the middle of something I couldn’t control.

Cleveland Clinic Hillcrest

It’s hard to say for sure because of everything that was going on at the time, but I believe I arrived at Hillcrest Coronary Care Unit on Sunday afternoon about 2:30-ish. I was hoisted and moved from bed to bed by three very skilled (female, not that it matters) paramedics. From their conversation, I gathered that their impression of the record-keeping at Euclid was not good.

At Euclid, I was hooked up to a telemetry heart monitor. At Hillcrest, it was wired. Sunday night, my right arm was connected to the heparin, my left arm tethered the monitor and a blood pressure cuff checking my BP every 15 minutes or so; my lower legs were attached to a pair of inflatable cuffs attached to an air pump, alternately inflating and deflating, massaging my calves and preventing clots.

They continued to take my blood every 4 hours, even through the night. I didn’t sleep well at all: there was noise outside in the ward, I could only lay on my back (I usually sleep on my stomach), and I as in a strange place (and in more ways than one!).

On Monday morning, I met the cardiologist. He stressed that I needed a cardiac catheterization, and he wanted to do it that day — in about an hour from then. That hour turned out to be three hours later, as two heart attacks came into the theater as I was waiting to get in. The live heart attacks took precedence of my “dead” one.

So they wheeled me into the operating room at about 1:30. It was freezing. To make matters worse, I was naked. They shaved me — yes, there. I tried to ignore the indignity, as they were only doing what was necessary to help me out. Then they washed my thighs and lower torso with a blue soap that still marks my body today. I don’t remember falling asleep. I could have stayed awake and watched, but I get a little queasy with this stuff, so…

I woke in my room about 3:00, incredibly hungry because they would not let me have anything to eat or drink (even water) before the surgery. They found a 99% blockage in one artery, and they performed angioplasty (inflating the artery with a balloon), and left in place a stent (a spring-loaded sleeve that keeps the artery expanded).

The Scary Part

At 4:30, two nurses entered my room, explaining that for legal reasons, two people had to be present for what they were about to do — remove the catheterization guide that they use to enter the femoral artery. It was a dangerous job.

As I said, I am queasy with this stuff. As that sucker came out of my leg (actually, the crease between my torso and my leg), I jumped. Both women yelled and tried to hold me down, but what caught my attention, and forced me to stay still and take my medicine, was the feel of a shot — and the resounding splat — of warm liquid down my leg.

That was blood. I was in trouble. Oh, shit!

I froze. I let the nurses do their work, which was to hold pressure on my femoral artery for the next 30 minutes, blood pressure cuff going work every 5 minutes. Oh, God, just don’t let anything happen right now. Please.

The Pain in the Butt Part

After 30 minutes, they could let go, but I was not allowed to move anything more than my arms or my head for the next 3 hours. At 8:00, I was allowed to move my left leg, but not my hips. To pass the time, I watched TV and noted the function of the cuff, which was firing every 30 minutes now.

Finally, at 11:00 p.m., they finally let me move. I could roll and flex, but I had to take it easy. They would now check my wound hourly for the next several hours, throughout the night, making sure there was no bleeding. That would mean Big Trouble.

Meanwhile, the “vampires,” as I called them, continued to take my blood. I felt like a pincushion. By now, they were having trouble finding usable places on my arms. I showed them a couple of new, choice veins to poke and draw my blood.

The biggest problem I had, by this point, was the pain produced by my 8-hour immobility. My arthritis came back big-time. For a while there, I couldn’t tell if my hip or my femoral artery area hurt worse, and I walked (Tuesday) with a decided limp.

Other Issues

Meridia Euclid may have been a little lax in their attitude and their record-keeping. As I said before, they did not give me aspirin or nitroglycerin. That should have been the first thing to happen. The aspirin came on Sunday, after the diagnosis was in. It’s more of an orthopedic hospital now, so this, in some ways, does not surprise me.

Hillcrest CCU was a different story: everything is documented; everything is counted; every little detail is noted and considered; every procedure is followed to the letter.

Just don’t try to sleep there: the housekeeping staff kept me up talking loudly outside my room after midnight: earlier in the day, a man was convicted in a Cleveland court, and as he was escorted out of the courtroom, he told the judge that he could “kiss my black ass!” repeatedly. These housekeeping people were talking loudly about that and laughing. When they wake you up every four hours to take your blood, temperature and pulse oxygen, and the BP cuff is firing every hour on the hour, stuff like their conversation gets a little troublesome.

Sorry, I just lied: it pissed me off. Hillcrest CCU, please take notice!

Also, I seriously need to locate my phone’s wall charger, and get a wall charger for my iPod Touch. I kept having problems keeping them charged so that I could keep you folks informed on Twitter and Facebook. Yes, I tweeted the entire thing. Well, on Facebook, at least. Add to that my bride’s attention to certain games on those devices, and there was even more drain on the batteries than I would have liked. That’s why there were virtually no updates after Monday night.

The Bullet Dodged

Tuesday found me decidedly improved. This was the day I would be visited by my attending physician (a representative of my regular doctor) and the cardiologist. The cardiologist showed up around lunch time, and he gave me the poop:

The catheterization revealed a congenital heart defect — a corkscrew twist in my circumflex artery (the artery that curls around the left side of the heart to carry blood to the rear of the heart) — and this twist has a ridge inside that eventually caused a 99% blockage of the artery. Imagine twisting a hose until it kinks. So I now have a 15mm x 3mm stent holding my artery open — perfectly correcting the defect.

The heart attack was very minor, and will leave no permanent damage. With proper care, it is quite possible — and quite probable — that I may never hear from my heart again. My heart defect has been successfully repaired.

By this point, I am quite relieved.

STOP.

According to the doctor, had I not paid attention to this episode, or had this episode not happened, I probably would not survive the next event. He used the term, “widowmaker.” THAT got my attention, believe me!

By going to the hospital when the event was happening, I saved my own life. A couple of days out of my life to take care of something seemingly trivial ended up paying big dividends.

What I Learned

First off, I eat fairly well: whole foods, little processed junk, fairly low-fat, low cholesterol, low(er) sodium. I stay away from fried foods, and almost anything that comes in a box.

When it all came down to choosing what I wanted, in a time of trouble, I didn’t waffle. I quietly and definitively spoke my mind. No excitement or drama there.

I made the right choices.

The best thing I ever did for myself was quit smoking. Upped my survival chances by 50% or more.

Uninterrupted sleep is under-rated.

No matter how dire the circumstances, it’s not a good thing to lose your sense of humor.

Skilled nurses are a Godsend when they’re looking for places to draw blood or enter intravenous appliances.

Confident, almost cocky cardiologists are a Good Thing.

Confident, almost cocky cardiologists who find — and correct — defects in your heart are a Good Thing as well.

Don’t bitch about the food: it’s better than it used to be, and will never be like home. Besides, no one will listen, anyway.

I am human.

For this first part of my life, if you had asked me if I believed in God, I would have said no: I know of God’s existence, so no one needs to prove that to me; what I struggle with is the idea of benevolence.

Many years ago, in a fit of depression, I asked for it all to end. You know what I mean. Obviously, you need to be careful what you ask for, because you just might get it. And, the answers to prayers do not always come back in our time.

Perhaps my initial wish was being granted. If so, this event may have been presented to me as the question, “Are you really sure you want this? In case you may have reconsidered, here’s the OFF switch.” A possibility I must consider.

Of course, I may have had far too much time to think. And when you consider the emotional nature of my experience, I could have easily over-thought this entire mess.

After all, even Sigmund Freud said, “sometimes, a cigar is just a cigar.”

Back to Top

Time Lapse Video #1

My first publishable time-lapse video.

I took the images April 29, 2010, starting at 6:45 a.m. in Cleveland and ending about 5:15 p.m. in Connecticut. I mounted my wife’s Canon A-570 IS to the dashboard via a couple of those rubber, non-skid mats you can get to mount your cell phone to your dash, and used the Canon Hack Development Kit (CHDK) to capture an image every 15 seconds.

I assembled the video in Final Cut, where I added the music, “A Different Journey” by Positively Dark, an interesting piece of electronic music that ended up to be just about perfect for the video.

I will be editing this video once more, to make a couple of adjustments, but enough for now. I have other things to do…

collisionbend.com 7

Yes, I have redesigned. You are now viewing Version 7 of collisionbend.com.

Version 7? Yes, version 7. Version 6 never made it beyond testing. (Ditto Version 4, so that’s 5 designs in almost exactly 6 years.)

Version 6 continued with the reverse I created in version 5, and I got tired of it. It also used XHTML 1, and I’m starting to get tired of that, too: Version 7 uses brand spankin’ new HTML5.

If you look at this design, you notice that it looks strikingly like the recent free WordPress theme ‘Smooth,’ and you would be absolutely correct: I used ‘Smooth’ as a base for this redesign.

My issue with 99% of the WordPress themes out there is that they are bare-bones, and have little in the way of customization toward the blogger. I have Social Media tweaks, jQuery, photos, and more that I want to display, as well as coding examples. I mean, how could I have a Plain Jane Web site when I tell people that I code in jQuery, (X)HTML/CSS, etc.?

And my issue with ‘Smooth’ is exactly that. What I love about ‘Smooth’ is its excellent typography and its simplicity. Simply put, I dig their chili — but I don’t think it was a complete theme, not by a long shot. I also wanted to use my color scheme — I’ve grown fond of ‘Denim ‘n Dinge,’ and wanted to maintain continuity.

The ‘Smooth’ theme uses XHTML Strict — and (horrors!) Cufon to introduce non-standard fonts. Cufon uses (excuse me, here: cough, cough, hack, hack) Flash to replace the content. I have issues with Flash, and Cufon in particular.

My solution? CSS3 @font-face. Yeah, I know that doesn’t work in Internet Explorer. I’ll feed IE 7/8 a separate stylesheet (dropping support for IE6), so while IE users don’t get to see the magic goodies like rounded corners, fancy fonts, and more, they get… well… a reasonable facsimile. Use a modern browser, get modern accoutrements…

The moblog is gone, and replaced with a photo gallery section (the moblog posts have been removed and the photos will be placed in an album). I really wasn’t using it, anyway, but still want the ability to email photos to the site and place them in an album. My photos are now handled by WordPress Photo Album, and there is only one main Photography page.

My one complaint about WPPA: the author provided his own stylesheet, and used the CSS class name of ‘clear.’ BIG no-no, dude! I changed the PHP files that control that and now it no longer conflicts (and no longer breaks the site).

I’ll add a video page sometime soon.

You’ll find that when you go to a single post, there’s no comment form. There’s no comments. But, wait: there’s a ‘comments’ link to the left of the post. What’s this? It’s a link? And if you click on ‘Comments’ (on a single page), you’ll notice that the post disappears and the form appears in its place. Just a little jQuery wizardry. Eye candy. A little usability work that keeps the site uncluttered.

Once a Buckeye, Always a Buckeye: the other nice part of this design, since I kept my modifications simple and straightforward, is that I’ll easily be able to reset the site for Michigan week. The Denim areas change to Scarlet, and the Gray areas stay Gray. The masthead image changes to a photo or a photo collage of Ohio State Football. It’s too much fun to do this, and since it riles friends and family who went to Michigan, I will continue with my tradition.

Other than that, there’s not much more to add, except that I will be adding an array of stylesheets, over time, to accommodate mobile devices: iPod Touch/iPhone, iPad, Droid, and Blackberry. We’ll see how long this one lasts… LOL

Changes Ahead…

If you’re not seeing little tiny lines differentiating the columns on this site, then you are seeing the (not so) old version of collisionbend.com.

A new version is coming, and soon: the current version, by a stoke of misgenius, is not rendering correctly in (OMFG, no!) Internet Explorer 6 and 7.

IE 6 I can live with; IE 7 I can’t.

The delay comes from other projects in the fire: another site that I am about to launch (given mediatemple’s current status), and a little more testing; and a static client site just received this morning.

Adjustments will happen by Friday, as will the new site, which will be announced at the same time.

Further, I am going to change the focus here, and develop a more historic, positive, Cleveland-centric orientation, with the mind of helping those who want to make Cleveland a more attractive place to center their business (or to travel to).

Details to follow soon… well, as soon as the blogging trip to Washington DC is finalized… please stay tuned…

Downtime…

I have been incredibly busy of late, with more things to do each day than I have time for, it seems. Whoever said that when you are between jobs that you have more time, in my mind at least, had no idea what they were talking about: it simply isn’t true.

I haven’t written much lately, as too much has happened. One event triggered some natural anger, so I deemed it best not to write until the feelings subsided somewhat: I was laid off in mid-September. Let’s just say that the job really didn’t suit me, my talents, or my desires, and that it was time to move on. (Looking for an expert front-end Web coder who excels in XHTML, CSS and jQuery? Contact me!)

Right around that time, my mother-in-law took a bad fall. After 3 weeks in the hospital followed by 6 weeks of rehab in a nursing home, we took her to her home this week.

And we also made a little trip to Washington D.C. to cover Cpl. Joshua Harmon’s interment at Arlington National Cemetery. I shot video and took photos, and afterward I processed the photos; when I was done with the photos, my bride processed the video while I went out on a Photo Safari. The main, uppermost story photo in the story appeared on the front page of the News-Herald, about 8″x5″, above the fold.

The trip to DC created a ton of photographic and video work for me to do, and I barely have time to get it done. If you visit the photo safari link in the last paragraph, there are 170 photos in the series, plus another 50 or so from the funeral, and another 30 or so from puttering around DC for 3 days. I got some work ahead of me.

Then, there was the election, and the election returns coverage at WKYC studios. Some of you saw me on TV that night: I was actually interviewed by Dick Russ about what I saw on Twitter.

The election night experience, as it was the last time we did it, was a lot of fun. Mostly, I watched Twitter and reacted to the news as history unfolded. It was an interesting night, and I have no regrets at all about spending that night in the company of the media instead of being at home.

No regrets, period.

Howard Fencl at WKYC, possibly one of the neatest people I have met in a long time, made sure that we were comfortable and that we had everything we needed to cover the news from an Internet perspective. Everyone at WKYC was attentive and accommodating — hey, they didn’t even raise a fuss when I asked that one of our monitors (there were 9 of them) was switched to CNN!

In short, we had a lot of fun, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

My thanks to everyone at WKYC for making a historical night interesting and memorable!

Live-Blogging from WKYC Tonight…

In celebration of today’s election, I’m joining MeetTheBloggers* at WKYC studios tonight. Joining me are Gloria Ferris, Tim Ferris, Mel Yurick, Joel Libava, Roger Bundy, Derek Arnold, Brian Layman, Mike DeAloia, and George Nemeth.

If you’re reading me, you already have the URLs for the folks above; but if you still need their addresses, they’re listed here.

You can find my updates on Twitter.

Have fun, America!

Browns Stadium Fails Ultimate UX Test

I attended last night’s football game between the Cleveland Browns and the New York Jets. My bride came upon some loge seats, so we went.

I’m regretting it.

First, we arrive, after parking our car in the Science Center garage, and enter the nearest National City entrance.

This is where all the shit starts (sorry — there’s more), unfortunately. Please read on.

Instead of directing us to the South side entrance, the kindly Customer Service gentleman ushered us into the North entrance, and told us to go to the third floor, follow it to the right and go around into the City View Lounge, then take another elevator…

In short, he made us walk the entire circumference of the stadium. Nice. Thanks.

We finally made it to our seats/loge, but only after the Browns had made it half-way through their first possession (after a three-and-out by the Jets after kickoff). I saw the last four or five plays of the Browns’ opening drive, including Braylon Edwards’ fantastic touchdown catch, which was a spectacle.

Then the thundercloud hit, driving everyone out of the stadium and the teams off the field. I’m OK with the removal of people into safer surroundings — please don’t get me wrong — but Cleveland Browns Stadium is NOT built for 72,000 people crowding the third floor lounges — under any circumstances.

At this momentous point in time, I was sent down for a pretzel. Yeah, right. I went downstairs, against my better judgment.

Issue #1: I asked for two pretzels, and was told by the concessionaire that they “can’t serve you any pretzels. There aren’t any.” When asked why, he said, “because they are coming out of the oven too hard.”

So I ordered a large, Souvenir Size Diet Pepsi for my wife, figuring I could get something better elsewhere (including a better beer than the swill they serve there for as much as you can buy for six at the store).

While I waited, the supervisor brought over a regular-sized Diet Pepsi instead of a Souvenir Cup. She asked the server about this, and he said (and I shit you not): “The customer changed his mind and asked for the large size.”

“Excuse me,” I said, “I asked for the large size initially — please don’t blame ME for your… well… misunderstanding. It’s not my fault.”

The station manager, in a huff, took the pop over to the fountain, dumped it into a large cup, topped it off with more soda, and brought it back without a word.

Fault #2, #3, & #4: don’t blame me for “changing his mind” when I didn’t!; don’t give me a huffy attitude, and don’t walk away like a bitch, OK? Say you’re, well, not sorry, but that you regret the inconvenience of the miscommunication, OK?

And don’t treat me like a piece of shit.

Bitch.

Then I decided to venture over to another stand to get a better beer and a couple of pretzels, hoping that they aren’t using the same oven — they couldn’t be! OK…

The third floor lounge is NOT built for weather delays, let me tell you: there wasn’t an inch to walk in, even if your life depended on it. Seriously: I wouldn’t want to have a heart attack in there! You can’t move — there’s no room at all.

Then, in the midst of that crowd, I discovered that I had lost my cell phone.

OMFG!

I lost my cell phone, a Verizon LG 9900 EnV with all of my photos, my contacts, photos — everything. OMFG!

Panic set in. I began to scour the area, looking high and low, through tangles of legs and such, all over the area, looking for my phone. I actually questioned a kid with a suspiciously-looking identical phone, complete with the “secret” code taped to the inner screen, about the phone. He said it was his, and an adult next to him told me to leave him alone.

OK. I returned upstairs. I grabbed my wife’s phone and called our cellular provider and suspended my phone’s Electronic Serial Number, preventing anyone from using the phone. Cool. I’ll let the homeowner’s insurance cover it from here, but…

I decided to go to Guest Services to see if anyone was honest enough to turn it in. This was an adventure in itself: not one “Customer Service” person seemed to know where Guest Services was actually located — one said it was in Section 102, another said 108, another said 130, another said 150… you get the idea… and each had a different way to get there!

Hey: “You can’t miss it!”

It took me 45 minutes to find Guest Services.

Of course, I’m looking for a 3-foot-high sign that said, “Guest Services,” but I was wrong: the sign was, in truth, less than a foot high, in the midst of BUY THIS and BUY THAT.

Nothing to help out someone in dire straits.

I finally found Guest Services in Section 102, and filed a report on a 11.5×8″ paper manually torn in quarters, and turned it in to the gal at the desk. She called a couple of the other GS stations, but no luck. She then said she’d call my wife’s phone if they found it.

Great.

Ok, so now it’s almost half-time, and I arrived back at the suite. My wife tells me, “if you want food, you gotta go now: it’s 7 minutes until half-time. Go beat the crowds.”

Great. Back into the abyss.

So I went downstairs, and started toward one of the food stands. I wanted a Guinness, and had seen it earlier, but… Hey: I had earned it, OK? On the way, I decided to stop by the concierge and see if someone had turned in a cell phone. I described it.

There it was. OMFG!

The 2GB data card was still there, too! OK… time warp… I got two Guinness, drank one, and went upstairs, OK?… Cool… I get back to the suite, and found that someone — while the phone was out of my possession — tried to make an international call at almost $10/minute.

They were denied, of course, because: a) my service declines international service without a pass code; and b) I had an unpaid balance (just billed, thank you) that they didn’t want to pay. They wisely decided to turn the phone in to Lost & Found.

Wow. Back to the game, OK?

By the time I returned to our loge, the third-stringers were playing, and watching the game was a worthless proposition. We decided to leave. I saw a total, over the evening, of 6 or 7 plays by the Browns’ offense, and 2 or 4 by the defense. Wow.

Our exit, thankfully, was simple and straight. We found our own way out, thank you very much.

Lessons: Don’t accept me at the wrong entrance — please direct me to the proper entrance and don’t make me walk the entire circumference, OK?

Make Damned Fucking Sure EVERY Customer Service Agent KNOWS WHERE THE FUCK GUEST SERVICES IS, and HOW TO TELL A GUEST WHERE TO FIND IT. NO EXCEPTIONS.

Don’t EVER allow food services workers to blame the customer for a mistake! Want to drive me away? That did it right there, before I knew I had lost the phone! Get rid of that guy RIGHT NOW. He’s incompetent.

Don’t ever assume the guest is at fault: most times they are, true enough, but sometimes they’re not; listen to them, hear them out, and try to discern their issue: don’t just say, “I don’t know. Ask someone else.” I got that repeatedly.

If you can’t answer my question, don’t just blindly take me somewhere — ask me if I CARE if you take me somewhere — don’t automatically assume I know where I am: I might be lost! I don’t want to get more lost than I already am, OK?

Right now, I don’t want to go back to Browns’ Stadium.

I wonder why.

Dinner at the Salt Mine…

We jaunted off to a local restaurant tonight, as is our custom on pay weeks. Since we had a gift certificate from Cleveland Independents for Willoughby Brewing Company, that’s where we chose to go for dinner tonight.

My bride had the Santa Fe Chicken Salad, which required some potable to chill the flame. I, on the other hand, had the Glazed Salmon.

The salmon was excellent, perfectly done. The risotto it sat on, on the other hand… let’s just put it this way: in my honest opinion, the chef at Willoughby Brewing Company needs to go on a strict salt-free diet for about the next six weeks, then taste his food: the risotto tasted like it came straight out of the Cleveland salt mine (sorry, this links to a PDF!).

Seriously: there is absolutely no need for 3,000mg of salt on a side dish when your daily suggested intake of salt is only 2,400mg — 2,000mg for those of us on a low-sodium diet! This is, and has been, my complaint with the food at WBC: the main course is generally excellent, but the side dishes suffer from severe sodium poisoning.

I’m going to be swollen for the next week at least.

The beer, on the other hand, is improving, although the barkeeps have no idea that a beer is supposed to have a head on it — and have no idea that a beer with a head on it is actually easier to carry around without spilling.

I shouldn’t have tipped as well as I did. But, had I not, the message would not get through. Alas…

On the Road Again…

…just can’t wait to get on the road again… (and that’s a cool, unintended effect with a WordPress plugin! I think I’ll leave it…)

NEWTOWN, CT — We arrived in Connecticut yesterday after driving half of Saturday to Cooperstown, NY. We only had a little rain early on, then it cleared up and allowed us to drive without hassle.

Getting to Cooperstown isn’t 100% easy. Sure: I-90 east to Route 28 and go south. But Route 28 can get stacked up at times, and it twists and turns all over the place.

The Hall of Fame itself was a sight every baseball fan should see at least once in a lifetime. The other exhibits bored me after a while, truth be told. And the Museum Shop was a disappointment as far as those things go. The staff was almost entirely kids, 16 to 18-ish, and they were nice enough, but three words I never heard uttered from their lips: “excuse me, please” when they cut you off in a crowded hall or bumped into you. That irritated me.

The rest of Cooperstown is a quaint little place — and just about the largest souvenir stand in existence. Every store for three blocks in any direction sells nothing but souvenirs of Cooperstown, or baseball, or Major League Baseball — which is really nice if you’re a Red Sox fan, or a Yankee fan, or a Phillies fan, or a Mets fan.

The rest of MLB? Fagettabouddit!

We ate in the Shortstop Restaurant just down the street from the museum (and down the stairs) and had a pretty good meal. I tried an Old Slugger Pale Ale, a local brew from the next town over, and enjoyed it. It’s not Great Lakes, but it can hold it’s own — no one’s going to steal home on this brew…

Google Maps leaves a little to be desired in these situations, sometimes, let me tell you!

We arrived in Connecticut yesterday afternoon, and the restaurant photo over there in the Moblog was the building — a century home, actually, converted into a restaurant — and now it’s a sushi place. The sushi was very good.

And now to relax: a little golf, play with the nieces a bit, do some photography, catch up on my redesign when it rains… time to decompress.

When Thongs Attack

You may have seen this in the news the last couple of days: a Los Angeles Department of Transportation traffic officer is suing Victoria’s Secret for selling defective women’s underwear. She claims that a defective metal piece flew off the thong and hit her in the eye, damaging her cornea.

Ummmm… besides this being an obviously trivial lawsuit, I have a few issues with the whole thing:

First of all, NBC actually showed the offending lingerie during an interview with the plaintiff. When I saw the panties themselves, I realized that the metal trim piece would locate itself somewhere around half-way between her spine and the curve of her waist, at least some 70 degrees — and almost 2 feet — away from her eye.

So if it snapped when she was wearing it, she would have had to be standing behind herself: the clip, since the tension would be forcing it away from her body almost perpendicular to her body, would shoot out, not up. No way that thing clips her eye.

Else, she was turning around looking at her behind in the mirror (making sure it didn’t look fat), and it flew upward. However, it would not fly upward with anywhere near the force required to damage her cornea, considering the aforementioned stress on the garment.

Bouncing off the mirror doesn’t work, either: it would lose approximately half of its velocity in the carom.

The only other method I could see this happening is in the act of donning the garment. Where’s the stretch to snap it — until it gets around your butt?

The only way that decorative trim could fly that far that fast would be if the garment was stretched to its limit — meaning that it would have been about 3 sizes too small for her — which would not be in accordance with the “used in the manner intended” ascribed in the lawsuit. Either that, or she got her foot caught in it and stretched the hell out of it — which would not be using the product “in the manner [it was] intended” to be used.

Lastly — and this is the damning evidence to me — when something flies toward your eyes, a human’s first reaction is to — what? blink? close your peepers? actually lower the lids over your eyes so something like this won’t happen? I’m sorry, she couldn’t have missed that — even my eyes aren’t that bad!

Obviously, I think she is going after money. The same with her attorney. I saw the interview on NBC this morning, and they lacked specifics, they wouldn’t release the thong for VS’s examination, and were a bit cagey — in my opinion.

So this brings me to another set of points: what is a Los Angeles traffic officer doing wearing a thong in the first place? To remove a panty line from her work trousers? Is she trying to stop traffic or cause an accident? Come on!

And at 52 (I’m not going to ridicule her for wearing a thong at age 52 — that would be plain wrong), you would think she would know better than to expose herself with such a flimsy lawsuit.

And speaking of flimsy: have you seen the companion bra for the thong? Nipple holes?

I wonder if she purchased both pieces on clearance.