Tuesday, May 31, 2011

MRI my head!

May 30, 2011

A little over a year ago I “bit the bullet”, as they say, and I finally went to find out how bad my hearing actually was, or, more appropriately, is, or should it be isn’t? Whatever. Anyway, in an effort to defy nature and not grow too old too fast I had been determined to put off the inevitable. I knew my hearing wasn’t good but I didn’t necessarily want to find out how bad it actually was either. I had been in denial because of the fact that growing deaf was, to me, another sure sign of growing old. That along with the sagging skin, the grey hair, the uncontrollable hair growth in numerous areas of the body that previously lacked any hair, the expanding midsection, the mid-night runs to the loo and many other indicators, too numerous to mention, which were also being ignored. But constantly saying “huh” apparently gets on everyone’s nerves, including mine, so I had to go through with the full investigation.
It took a year, but I recently got to see a specialist about my hearing, or lack thereof, to be precise. My hearing loss, to “the experts”, is unique in ways I am unable to fully explain. However in an effort for “the experts”, and me, to completely understand it I was sent to have an MRI done on my head.
First, it struck me as extremely odd that in an effort to find out why the hearing in my left ear had deteriorated in such a weird way, (and to also search for the reason for the constant ringing in my head, kind of like the ringing one would hear for a day or two after a good rock concert but mine just never went away and, apparently, not everyone experiences this), that they, “the experts” again, would stick you in a tube that emits noises at a 100+ decibel level to find out why you can’t hear. Huh? Sure, they give you hearing protection, but still!
For those of you who haven’t had the unpleasant experience of an MRI let me inform you that you haven’t missed a thing. They lay you down on a morgue-like table and clamp your head into Hanibal Lecter type head gear and then insert you into a claustrophobic’s nightmare of a place, (THE TUBE), and tell you to be perfectly still, like there’s an option, and then proceed to lambaste you with noises that one could only imagine originating in some science fiction freak’s mind, thus making you want to confess to numerous atrocities so the nightmare will end, all the while they’re giving you indecipherable instructions that nobody, good hearing or bad, would be able to understand, so then you think that maybe you’re doing something wrong or that they’re telling you, God forbid, the machine is on the fritz, or something, or maybe when the technician said, “Wumprh gnadelcrmf dnonble grmxlet”, she was really meaning “We’ll give you some ointment for that”, until they finally slide you out about twenty minutes later ending your terror and leaving you thankful that you haven’t messed yourself.
Yes, okay, you’re right; I may have embellished that a little. Too much literary license perhaps? Maybe the MRI will reveal my too-developed imagination. It wasn’t THAT bad, but it sure wasn’t pleasant either.
The second thing that I was curious about was what the MRI results would show. In between the squeals, siren-like blaring and horn blasts, I was trying to think of something, anything, to take my mind off of the procedure and all I could think about was what Dizzy Dean said after he got hit in the head with a baseball, which was, “They x-rayed my head and didn’t find nothin.”
“It takes about ten years to get used to how old you are.”- Quoted by Raymond A. Michel in The Leaf.

The End of The World Again?

May 23, 2011

Were any of you surprised when the world didn’t end on May 21st, 2011 at precisely 6:00 pm local time? I myself wasn’t surprised or disappointed for that matter. I’ve still got some stuff that I want to do, and, to be honest, I really wasn’t even paying attention to the clock as the second hand ticked by the predicted hour.
This was the second inaccurate prediction from Harold Camping, the 89 year old broadcaster for the Family Radio Service, his first inaccurate prediction date being September 1994. To me, predicting Armageddon or The Apocalypse is the ultimate in “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” story considering there have been no less than 200 recorded predictions regarding the end of the world. So far, all of them wrong.
With recent natural disasters of floods, tornadoes, earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis, not to mention numerous human frailties, it’s hard not to get caught up in the Doomsdayer’s thinking. But the record of inaccurate predictions hasn’t been the most reliable has it?
I am not sure I even want to know when the final second will occur, if, in fact, someone or something is able to correctly determine that particular moment, which is highly unlikely given the 0 in 200+ accuracy of past predictions.
Harold Camping did not release a statement after the non-event, but one of the board members of his Family Radio International organization said he was "mystified" and "a little bewildered." Ya think?
No one was exactly sure what was to be done with the 120 million dollars that his radio network received in donations to “spread the word” regarding the End of the World either. As with many of these predictions, and predictors, one is left to wonder if the saving of our collective souls was the real motivation behind the numerological equations used to determine the timing of this “End of the World” event.
No doubt Robert Fitzpatrick, a retired MTA employee, was “a little bewildered” himself after he had spent his entire life savings, about $140,000.00, on placards on subway cars and bus shelters around New York city warning people of the impending doom. ”I see that we're still here. I don't understand it,” Fitzpatrick said shortly after the predicted time passed. “I just don't understand why nothing has happened.”
My personal feeling is that if you treasure every day that you have here on Earth and you treat others as you would want yourself treated (the good old Golden Rule) then it really shouldn’t matter on what day or in what way your impending doom does come. At least that’s my humble opinion on the subject.

“Don't worry about the world coming to an end today. It's already tomorrow in Australia.”- Charles Schultz (1922-2000).

Nicknames

May 14, 2011

The other day I was filling in an online application and for security sake they ask you to answer a particular question as an identifier that you, the user, are who you say you are. The questions are like “What is your mother’s maiden name?” or “What is/was your nickname”? So I was going to go with the nickname thing, but then I wondered which one would I use?
I guess the very first nickname given to me was by my oldest sister Betty (short for Elizabeth) when she named me “Pinky”. I know, I know, never mind, I was a baby! Boy am I glad that one didn’t stick! Anyway, later on, when I was carrying about 125 lbs on my 6’3” frame a buddy of mine named me “Bennie the Bonerack” and the Bennie/Ben part stuck with me for a long time within a certain circle of friends. But the one nickname that I’ve had the longest was just a shortening of my last name from Hubbard to Hubb.
I’m not sure if it was a sports or a hockey thing but many of my sports playing friend’s nicknames were derived in the same way-just a shortening of the last name. Jerry Wasnik was Waz or Wazzy; Jim Welykochy was Welo and Rick Metzler was Metz, or to be correct, it was actually “The Amazing New York Metz”.
A lot of other nicknames are given by adding a “y” or “ie” or an “o” to a name to give someone a nickname like Sproaty or Jonesy or Deano.
A few years ago I had worked at Don “Bronco” Horvath’s lumberyard in Wawota. Wawota, like many small towns, gives a nickname to everybody and although I worked there for nearly a year I don’t think I could name many of the locals by their actual given names. I knew Twiggy and Soupy and Coyote and Radar and Hawk but I’d be hard pressed to come up with their real names.
It’s not so different here in Kipling, though. I recall stopping in at one of the local watering holes and taking a chair at a table with Gooch, Gub, Goose and Junior.
In Canada, with our diverse ethnic backgounds, (around Kipling it’s usually something Hungarian), a nickname can come from a word in the old tongue like “Kakas” (pronounced something like kaukaush, if that helps) which, in English, means cock, as in rooster. Then there’s the old country name translation thing like Pista (peeshta), which is Hungarian for anyone name Steve.
Some given first names have many different variations like Rich, Ritchie, Rick, Dick or Dickie for Richard or Will or Willy, Bill or Billy for William. In my family alone we’ve got a Jack for John, Betty for Elizabeth, Dot for Dorothy, Margo for Marguerite, Jeannie for Mary Jeanne, Gordie, Gord or Gordo for Gordon and Shelly for Michelle. I think Judy and I were the only ones that went by their actual given names most of the time. Actually, for the first six years of my life I thought my name was “Stop That!”- Ba-dum-DUM-TSH!
Today, many kids use their peer’s last name as their nickname-like Kish or Vargo or Kertai- which, if you are a regular reader of this column you’ll know my feelings on that subject, (see In My Humble Opinion-March 18th edition of The Citizen), which, to me, not only shows a lack of respect but little imagination also. Mind you, Hubb, Waz and Metz aren’t stretching the imagination by any means, either.
The following are a sampling of the nicknames of some of the people that I have come to know in my lifetime. If your inquiring mind needs to know, and you don’t know who the following are, you can contact me for their real names if necessary. In my time I have known a Schlaps, Spy, Smoothy, Moose, Orca, Scrag, Poots, Turk, Nellie, Zipper, Muck, Doc, Roter, Hopper, Gonzo, Birdie, Viggy, Bugsy, Mo (more than one), Bubba, Crow, Koochy, Zuggs, T-Bone, Pepitone…
“Nicknames stick to people, and the most ridiculous are the most adhesive.”-Thomas C. Haliburton (1798-1865).

Tribute to Mother's Day

May 9, 2011

OMG! What was I thinking, or not thinking, as it were? Blame it on The Blackout, blame it on the pain, blame it on the medications or, maybe blame it on a bit of all of the above, but whatever the reason, there can be no excuse for missing Mother’s Day!
That’s the problem with writing a weekly newspaper column, if you don’t keep a keen eye on the calendar you can miss some very important events and one should never, ever forget Mother’s Day!
There are many important days throughout the year but, to me, the most important day would be Mother’s Day. Without your mother then you just wouldn’t be, would you? So, although it’s a week late, I am making this my Mother’s Day tribute column. Here are some quotes regarding Mothers. Enjoy.
“When I was six months pregnant with my third child, my three year old, came into the room while I was dressing and said, 'Mommy, you are looking fat!' I replied, 'Yes, honey, remember Mommy has a baby growing in her tummy.' 'I know,' she replied, but what's growing in your butt?'”
“Youth fades, love droops, leaves of friendship fall. A mother's secret hope outlives them all.” - Oliver Wendell Holmes
“A mother understands what a child does not say.” - Jewish proverb.
“Of all the rights of women, the greatest is to be a mother.”- Lin Yutang (Chinese writer).
“A man loves his sweetheart the most; his wife the best, but his mother the longest.”-Irish Proverb.
"I want my children to have all the things I couldn't afford. Then I want to move in with them." - Phyllis Diller.
Children say the darndest things and here are some questions and answers about their Moms:
Q.) Why did God make mothers? A.)She's the only one who knows where the scotch tape is.
Q.) How did God make mothers? A.) Magic plus super powers and a lot of stirring.
Q.) What ingredients are mothers made of? A.) God makes mothers out of clouds and angel hair and everything nice in the world and one dab of mean.
Q.) Why did God give you your mother and not some other Mom? A.) God knew she likes me a lot more than other people's moms like me.
Q.) What kind of little girl was your Mom? A.) 1-I don't know because I wasn't there, but my guess would be pretty bossy. 2-They say she used to be nice.
Q.) What does your Mom do in her spare time? A.) 1-To hear her tell it, she pays bills all day long. 2-Mothers don't do spare time.
Q.) If you could change one thing about your Mom, what would it be? A.) I would like for her to get rid of those invisible eyes on her back.
Q.) What's the difference between moms and dads? A.) Dads are taller & stronger, but moms have all the real power 'cause that's who you got to ask if you want to sleep over at your friend's. Moms have magic; they make you feel better without medicine.

"My mother had a great deal of trouble raising me, but I think she enjoyed it." - Mark Twain

Back surgery and the blackout

May 2, 2011

First things first folks, I guess before I start in on my views regarding THE BLACKOUT, I should do a quick update for all of you faithful and concerned followers of the on-going saga of the wrecked back.
As you may recall, I was finally called in to receive my Right Microdiscectomy (back surgery) on the 21st of April and then I wrote about how my timing was off because I would have preferred to celebrate my Grandson’s birthday (also happening on the 21st of April) and the Easter Weekend before I went in for the surgery but the surgery had to come first; remember that?
So anyway, I was all packed and ready to go on the 20th when I get the call from the O/R Scheduling Department saying that they would have to put off my surgery until the 27th of April! Good news and bad news, eh? The good news was that I got to celebrate the birthday and the Easter weekend with the family before the surgery after all, but the bad news was that I had a longer wait for surgery.
Long story short, I went in to the hospital, was checked, drugged, had the surgery done, re-checked and re-drugged and then sent on my way back home all within less than a twelve hour span on the 27th of April. It may take them a long time to get you in there but once they do they don’t mess around. Bing-bang-boom…a little slice, a little dice and then…NEXT.
So I was uncomfortably convalescing along at home and was just starting to feel somewhat better when the lights went out here on Friday night. No biggie, we figured, it looked a little ugly out but nothing that good old Saskatchewanians can’t deal with on a regular basis.
We were a little more than surprised when we got up Saturday morning to find a full-blown blizzard raging outside and the power still off. Fortunately for us, we had installed a wood-burning stove in the living room a few years ago but, unfortunately for us, I hadn’t bought into the whole “the sky’s falling” thing surrounding Y2K and, therefore, didn’t buy that generator that we were all supposed to buy. Tsk, tsk, tsk, too smart too late.
So Deb built a fire, made up a make-shift bed for me in the living room, then we set up camp around the wood stove and closed off the rest of the freezing cold house. We were convinced it would only be a matter of minutes or a few hours, at the very least, until the power was restored. Little did we know that the novelty of our cozy camping experience in the living room would wear off long before the power would come back on.
It was a real pioneer experience for us. We heated up cans of beans and soup on the stove top while the kettle remained full at all times. And I was doing okay without my big-screen TV and having to miss watching the latest playoff games was tempered by the fact that I could follow the scores and news through my “Crackberry”, at least ‘til it ran out of juice. In a weird way it was almost fun. Almost. Like I said, the novelty wore off sooner rather than later. It was one of those experiences that life throws at you that you could do without but are a little richer for by having lived through it.
“Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards”-Author Unknown.

Ference's excuse

April 22, 2011

I cannot let a spring pass by without mentioning that this is one of the best times of the year to be a sports fan. Spring and fall are my two favorite seasons as far as sports watching goes.
The NBA playoffs, the world curling and hockey championships, the start of the Major League Baseball season, the Masters golf tournament and, of course, the number one event for just about every Canadian worth his salt, the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup playoffs, are all being contested at this time of year. Naturally, in keeping with my strict adherence to Canada’s national pride in the game of ice hockey, I have devoted hours and hours of worship in front of my television set to these games. It’s just the Canadian thing to do, isn’t it?
I happened to be watching the fourth game of the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins first round playoff series during which Boston defenseman Andrew Ference scored a goal and proceeded to “flip the bird” to the Montreal crowd. Apparently, using the old “digitus impudicus (impudent finger)” goes back to ancient Greek and Roman times. The highway salute, the Bronx salute, the one-finger salute, the bird (as in giving, flipping, or flying the bird), or, in Canada, the Trudeau salute, is an obscene hand gesture with universal meaning.
Being a lifelong Hab (Montreal Canadiens) hater I can certainly sympathize but cannot condone Ference’s actions. It’s not really his actions that I am here to debate anyway. What I’d like to talk about was his denial that he did it on purpose. He insists his glove got stuck and the gesture was not intentional. “I’m standing by it,” he said. “It would be a lot more interesting if I didn’t. But I paid the fine ($2500.00) for it. I’m glad it wasn’t on purpose or else I could get suspended. … The glove got stuck. I paid my fine.”
Seriously!? “It got stuck!” That’s your defense? Did you forget that the game was televised? Did you forget that there were perhaps a couple of dozen TV cameras showing the game and your actions and that a few million people were watching your every move? “It got stuck”!? C’mon! How stupid do you think we are?
Back in December, during an Ottawa Senators vs New York Rangers regular season hockey game, the Senators’ forward Matt Carkner was cut during a fight and, again, the TV cameras clearly showed him flicking blood from the cut off of his fingers in the direction of the Rangers’ players’ bench. “Maybe I made a gesture,” he said, denying that he had actually flicked any blood at the opposition team while he also conveniently forgot that anyone watching the game, or its highlights, could see what he was doing.
Denials and lies are as commonplace in the sports world as they are anywhere else, I guess, but surely these guys can’t think they were fooling anyone, can they? These two incidents maybe don’t compare to some of history’s big whoppers, which were obviously covering up the truth, like former US Presidents Bill Clinton’s denial that “I never had sexual relations with that woman” or Richard M. Nixon’s “I’m not a crook”, but they’re right up there with the likes of-“the cheque’s in the mail” or “it’s not about the money” or “I never took steroids”; the lie being so obvious that it’s laughable.
My father always told me that lying to cover up bad behaviour was often times worse than the bad behaviour itself. So wouldn’t it be nice if one of these people would man-up and accept responsibility for their actions? What would they lose? $2,500.00 to a professional athlete is like couch-change to me so I would venture a guess that it would be worth a lot more than mere money for them to use an “honesty is the best policy”, own up to their actions, accept the fact that they were wrong and, in the end, gain some respectability by coming clean.

“The truth brings with it a great measure of absolution, always”~ R.D. Laing (1927-1989).
Writer’s note: comments and questions regarding this column may be addressed to hubbar@sasktel.net. Also, previous “In My Humble Opinion” and “Random Thoughts” columns can be found on the following website: http://pnhubbard.blogspot.com/.

Timing is everything

April 18, 2011

They say that “timing is everything”, and whoever “they” are, are right most of the time, or at least with an estimated margin of error of +/-3.1 percentage points, 19 times out of 20 or something. Sorry about that, it seems I’ve been keeping my eye on too many polls lately.
The old timing issue was put to the test last week when I received a phone call from the O/R Surgical Scheduling Department at the Regina General Hospital a mere 22 hours after the paper’s deadline to submit my last whiny column about waiting times being too long. No, I hadn’t even sent them a copy of the article either, although I guess I should have, so the timing was purely coincidental.
Turns out that the timing was pretty good, in this particular instance, for a couple of reasons, one: after waiting for eight months, I was getting kind of anxious to get something done about this discomfort, if you hadn’t noticed, and two: I had already finished and submitted the aforementioned column so then I didn’t even have to write a whole new one for the paper.
But the bad timing was also evident when my scheduled surgery, for those of you keeping score at home, was scheduled for the 21st of April, which is the day of our Grandson’s second birthday, the day before Good Friday and the beginning of the Easter Weekend when a bunch of our family members were going to be gathering at our house for a weekend of celebration.
Typical, eh? Something you’ve been waiting and waiting and waiting for, and you whine and cry about how long it takes, and when they finally call you start going, “Oh, ah, really? The 21st, eh? Hmmm. I guess I’ve got to go, don’t I?” Damn. Eight freakin’ months and you couldn’t have waited another four days? But enough of the “glass is half-empty” thinking. I’m lucky I got called in at all, I guess. Others have been waiting longer than me to get things fixed so I’m going to go when I’m called, regardless of the timing.
Sticking with the “timing” theme, I suppose if one would have to choose an April, with way below seasonal averages in temperature, April 2011is the one to choose. With this spring runoff being higher than anything we’ve seen since the middle 1970’s the recent slow melt has probably helped ease some of the flooding tension a bit. Even so, there are road and highway closures all over the province but “they” think that many area’s runoff levels have peaked already, so that’s good news.
If “timing is everything” then “location, location, location” is a close second. As unusually high as Saskatchewan’s flood waters have recently been our flood damage doesn’t come close to the ravages of Japan’s tsunami or the recent tornadoes in the United States. I can debate whether my timing is good or bad but I know that my location is perfect.
“Life is about timing”- Carl Lewis (Olympic Champion-1961-).

Writer’s note: comments and questions regarding this column may be addressed to hubbar@sasktel.net. Also, previous “In My Humble Opinion” and “Random Thoughts” columns can be found on the following website: http://pnhubbard.blogspot.com/.