As per my continuing travels in Argentina, I´ve written a second letter to the compadres (which I must say was rather difficult on a barely functioning Argentine keyboard):

Hello again,

The waterfalls at Iguazu were pretty rad but not quite as exciting as the soccer match between Buca and Guatalahara in which a player, as he was escorted by a barrage of swat members who deflected the oncoming projectiles of the crowd, was punched in the face by a disgruntled fan. I got substantially drunk with some brits who had made the match into a drinking game in which every foul called was event enough for a drink. When the game was finally cancelled due to the rioting fans we decided that we all needed to finish our beers, and hit the bars. Later I toured the city with some aussies who might as well have spoken spanish because half the lingo they used came across as absolute gibberish to me. I took a bus to Cordoba which was delayed a good three hours (making it a total of 36) due to riots breaking out in a small town over gas prices. But from what I´ve heard its much more low key here as is in some of the neighboring countries in which you can´t even cross the border. I´ll probably be taking a bus farther south to Mendoza (where I´m told there are some amazing wineries) either tonight or tommarrow morning.



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Touch the Puppy
      Butterfinger McFlurry
   I will REMOVE the fucking toilet seat if you don't shut up 


Nodes like this are all well and good for occasional reading, but in my opinion are in no way deserving of being reincarnated on the main Page of Cool. I would say they are worthy of an upvote, but save C!s for something that will add substance. Ching something that I'm going to read and come away just that much more wordly. I try to Ching! factual nodes, or nodes in which the author reveals an intimate part of themselves, or simply something that you can tell the author wrote with passion.

This essay is a response to the following question from a fellow noder. I couldn't stop writing, so here it is. It is an appeal that applies to any Bush supporter.

re: june 16, 2005 - Why do you hate America?

I can only hope you are being facetious. If that is not the case, and you are a supporter of that lout in the Oval Office, then I feel sorry for you, and hope you come to your senses.

Saying “my country, right or wrong” is like saying, “my mother, drunk or sober”. One can love this country and hate what the current pack of jackals in the White House are doing with and to her.

I served four years on active duty in the Army, have you? (This is not to say that you have to be a veteran to be a patriot.) As a veteran, I also hate the cavalier attitude Bush has towards the military. He has done nothing but cut benefits and place increasing demands on an Army stretched too thin through his ridiculous escapades. To point out wrongdoing is not an example of hatred, but of love. I love this country too much to sit silently while these people despoil her.

You practically can’t eat fish any more as it is, and Bush is going to continue to allow tons of mercury into our air. Who hates America in this scenario?

Bush and his cronies are treating this country like a hostile takeover, milking USA Inc. for all she’s worth before dumping her back on the market to fend for herself while they move on. He’s dropping our budget surplus on Iraq in a failed invasion based on evil sick pandering manipulating fearmongering LIES, simultaneously beggaring us while angering the rest of the world and creating more and deeper hatred in The Middle East than previously existed. Every atrocity that occurs under our flag is another terrorist born for revenge against us.

I supported the effort to get Bin Laden in Afghanistan, BTW. Although Bush f*cked that up, too. He took too long and let the terrorist get away. He isn't chasing Bin Laden very hard, either. Didn’t he say, “Wanted Dead or Alive”? We crucified his father for lying about raising taxes, and now we give the son a free pass to piss on a pledge he made solemnly before us all to catch the man who slaughtered thousands of our countrymen and women. Bush has since said that Bin Laden is “marginalized” and “no longer important”. He said that. On national TV.And we sit there and eat that shit up.

I F*CKING LIVE IN NYC, AND I WANT BIN LADEN AND EVERY OTHER M*OTHERF*CKER WHO WAS INVOLVED! Doesn't Bush get it? Don’t you? Why are you letting Bush piss our treasure and blood on a country and a regime who, although terrible in themselves, were not even involved in the World Trade Center Disaster?

Here at home, he’s just as bad. We are going to financial hell in a handcart, and Bush is pulling on the handle. His financial policy would even make Reagan (who I voted for while in the service via absentee ballot) shake his head in confusion. It will take us as many years to fix our economy once he has left office as it will our reputation. In some countries they use “American” as an insult. Who voted the leadership of our good allies Saudi Arabia and Pakistan into power? You may forget that Bin Laden was once one of ours, as was Saddam and Noriega, but the man on the street in Britain, or Germany, or Spain, did not. They can even remember our original professed reasons for this war, even if the average American does not.

What about the Patriot Act? This guy is pushing to keep in place crap that should never have been passed into law in the first place. No-warrant searches are not supposed to happen in this country, and one should feel free in the sanctity of their thoughts. Nobody but you should know what books you read.

So if you are asking me “Why do you hate America?” you should look in the mirror and ask that of yourself.

Not to be one to say "I told you so", I wrote this earlier:

Frankly, if the American public is too stupid to reject Dumya, this country deserves whatever he does to them in the future. Your children will be paying for this for years, some in blood, all in cash. Sadly, the ones that were the most brainwashed are going to be the ones who pay the most.

I forsee a major financial crisis in the near future, which will allow the government to push through Social Security "reform" which will allow the rich to pull their funds out of the program, beggaring the next generation of retirees. I won't even begin to speculate on the imperial aspirations of a Dumya II administration. I pity the rest of the world now, especially developing countries with any resources his cronies can exploit.

I hate being right.

Today I went back to work for a noon to 9pm shift. I had to wear a sandal on my left foot because it couldn't stand the confining pressure of my shoe. I got bitched at because my jeans had a torn knee; fair enough, but I hadn't had the time to replace them, and I'll be darned if I'll wear my good clothing when they expect me to go rack-diving and lugging around 80 pound boxes. Anyway, I managed to keep my foot elevated and out of the way, though it did require some contortions.

Everything started out normally. I closed a $17k+ sale and worked with a few other customers, setting up times for them to come back after Wednesday to buy. I clocked out a bit late for "lunch" (4:20pm) and headed home. Mr. Maylith had the day off, which made my lunch hour especially pleasant. I baked off the last portion of a big Costco pizza, and we made a party of it. As I was readying to go back to work, I checked my temperature (as I've been doing 2-3 times a day) and frowned. 98.8°F, after I'd brushed my teeth using cold water? Hmmm. Well, I was due to take my next antibiotic at 6pm, not to worry.

As I pulled into a parking spot, I noticed the sunlight falling on my bare forearm, and saw the relief, in shadows, of raised, reddish lumps all over it. I had one of those "what the heck?" moments, and checked my other arm. Same thing: hives, lots of them. A quick peek down my shirt: still more hives. About then it became an "oh, shit!" moment.

I tried to call to my husband, but all I got was his voice mailbox system. I left a rather scathing message about how the reason why we got these cellphones was to be able reach one another in an emergency, and that I was having an allergic reaction and needed him.

In retrospect, I should have turned around and driven straight to the hospital, but I'd had reactions to antibiotics before and they had never been anything worse than a rash. Furthermore, I was completely confused, because I'd told the people in the ER not to give me anything related to penicillin, and I didn't understand what I could possibly be reacting to. (While I've had basic training in pharmacology, that was over five years ago and it certainly does not make me an expert in which brand names are associated with which drugs.) So, I was concerned, but not frantic. I went inside, put down my day planner on my desk, and clocked in at 5:24pm, about half an hour before my next appointment was due. I figured I'd place a call to the hospital, tell them I was coming, take care of my customer, and then leave.

I dug the discharge sheet from Saturday out of my purse, and looked for a phone number. Completely unhelpfully, it read "please contact the hospital if any of these things happen..." No phone number. Wonderful. So, I then feel for my phonebook which I keep hidden under my desk top. (It's a weird desk; there's a secondary shelf about 5 inches under the main countertop which provides a handy hideyhole, but mainly it's a cheap way to make room for the keyboard shelf.) The phonebook was gone – someone had taken it, even though I had brought it from home and had written my name on it. Some people are just too rude for words.

I went looking for my immediate supervisor or her boss, but neither were in the building, so I went back to my desk and called up the phone room to find out who the floor manager on duty was.

As I was going back out onto the floor, I met a friend, a fellow with whom I get along with quite well. I held up my arm and said, "Isn't that nice?" or some such. He took one look and said, "That's an allergic reaction." I nodded and said, "Yeah, I know." I must've seemed nonchalant to him — I guess I was, in fact — but in any event, he said "Go see a doctor, NOW."

All this time I'd started to feel rather odd, so I was quite inclined to agree with him. I had to cross the entire store to get to the phone room. By the time I got there, I felt a little out of breath from the fast walk. I walked around the sensomatic gate, behind the service desk, got to the doorway, and put a hand on the doorjamb because I suddenly didn't feel so steady anymore. The three gals in the phone room jumped up as one, asking me if I was alright. I took a breath and said, "No. I need to see a doctor, now." And that's when my breathing shut down.

They sat me down in a chair — I'm a little foggy on the exact order of all that happened next — but there was talk about how one of them should drive me to the nearby walk-in clinic, but another voice said, heck no, I'm calling 911. By then, I was literally sobbing for breath. It felt like a very bad asthma attack, but I haven't had asthma problems for years. I managed to tell them what medicines I was taking, and one gal told me she had the same allergy to Keflex and kept me focused on breathing. In the background, I heard someone phone the store manager about what was going on. I was asked if they could call anyone for me, and, between gasps, I managed to say I'd already left my husband a message. Someone knew he worked at a sister store of ours and asked if he was there. I shook my head no, and finally had to write down his cell number because I couldn't speak anymore. I felt very dazed and detached.

Next thing I knew, there were sirens in the distance, and my store manager and the other people in her office magically appeared from their oh-so-important meeting. I ignored them. I wrote down my locker combination so someone could fetch my purse, and someone else got my dayrunner from my desk. I remember thinking I needed it because it had names and phone numbers in it. Yet another someone (sorry, I wasn't tracking well at the time) got me out of my apron. I heard a voice fussing that I hadn't clocked out, and another saying "We'll just cross-clock her." Shortly after that, the room was chock full of paramedics. I counted five, maybe a few more. I was still quite dazed and couldn't seem to breathe; it was difficult to see through the grey fuzz or to hear instructions, much less follow them, but I kept trying.

Shortly, I had a clip on a fingertip to measure the level of oxygen in my blood, a blood pressure cuff on my arm, EKG leads on all four limbs, and I don't know what else. I heard one of them record my blood sugar level out loud, so they must've stuck me, but I don't remember it. There was talk of getting me hooked into an IV the moment they got me in the ambulance. As I was helped onto the gurney (with my torso elevated, to help my breathing), I saw my friend there, looking on. I was glad to see him, but it was beyond me to wave.

So, the ambulance. I'd never been in one. As it turned out, they were on a training run, so the tyro got to put the IV in. He did a good job of it. They all crowded around for a while – I remember hearing the noise of a lot of chatter I didn't track at all – and then most of them went back to the firetruck and off we went. I vaguely remember, along the way, the senior paramedic coaching the newbie on. I was amused by that, in a sentimental way, and went along with it seeing as how I've been a guinea pig countless times before with fellow students. Well, it was part sentiment, and part anchoring on the interchange to help me avoid panic over the realization that breathing was now a luxury, not a given. Anyway, they started me on intravenous Benedryl and put me on oxygen. Apparently my oxygen perfusion was good, but it still felt like there was a rather dense fuzz between me and the rest of the atmosphere. I heard the senior tell the tyro "Treat the patient, not the symptoms" as he was giving me oxygen. In a way it was a good thing that I could hardly breathe, because I might have burst out laughing otherwise. Maybe the O2 was a placebo, maybe not, but whatever, it helped.

After all that rush, things slowed down once we got to the ER. I was transferred to a wheelchair and parked in admissions. Though I was breathing a little better, I was still quite woozy and felt extremely tired. There was a small girl in the room who drove me to distraction by asking her parents incessant, loud questions about me. It took a while to get me admitted, during which time I encountered the PA I'd seen two days before. She had a double-take when she recognized me, and asked what was going on. I said, with my tone as neutral as possible, though a bit flawed by difficulty breathing, "Remember the Keflex? I'm allergic to it." Apparently nonplussed, she said,

"Usually if the only reaction you have to penicillin is a rash, you don't react to Keflex. I guess you just got lucky!"

Again, standard disclaimers apply. I had TOLD THEM, multiple times, not to give me penicillin or anything remotely related to penicillin! Argh! (I didn't know, at the time that they were shooting that crap into my veins, that Keflex is related to penicillin. Worse, after they gave it to me intravenously, they then told me to take two grams a day of the same stuff by mouth!)

The rest of the evening was fairly uneventful. I got parked in the corridor again. I felt freezing cold, and wasn't given a blanket when I first came in; I finally had to ask a passerby for one. This time, an MD finally attended me. He said rather than giving me more medication, they were going to put me under observation, give me a prescription for a different antibiotic, and write "no cephalosporins" all over my chart.

Nurses checked on me at intervals. After a while, I was able to sit up long enough to take down notes about what had happened on a scrap of paper that had been in my purse. Then I laid back to rest again. The hives did not change, but eventually I was breathing a little better, and I told them I wanted to go home. After still more waiting, they yanked the IV line and I got the prescription for the new antibiotic, along with my discharge notice. I was told to follow up with my regular doctor (with whom I'd already scheduled an appointment) and then told "You're free to go."

Seeing as how I was stranded there, I attempted to call my husband again. As it turned out, he had been in the shower the first time I called, and he was already en route to the hospital. I felt ashamed for lashing out at him in my earlier message, even though I had been panicking at the time. Lady bless him for being so patient with me.

He picked me up a few minutes later. We went to get my prescription filled and some OTC Benedryl tablets. I felt up to driving home, so we went back to my workplace to get the second car, along with my pack which had been left behind.

On the way home, I stopped at the supermarket. There, to my surprise, I ran into one of the general contractors I had worked with earlier that same day; he was shopping with his wife. They're old friends of mine, so I filled them in on what had happened. His wife had heard about my colorful toe and foot, and wanted to see. It was nice to have a good old-fashioned gossiping session, and even better to stretch my legs a little after lying on that gurney for so long, even though my foot still hurt quite a bit.

Once home, I disposed of the Keflex, downed my meds, and was out like a light.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

I still have a low-grade fever and the rash. Thank goodness I just happened to have yesterday and today off, as I have no more sick time. At least I've gotten some rest, though it's very frustrating in a way because I'd planned to do a lot of work around the house these last two days, and accomplished almost none of it.

Aside from the still colorful toe/foot, I've now got not one but two decorative bruises at the IV sites, one on my right wrist (a monster 5"/13cm long blotch), the other on the back of my left hand (a 1.5"/4cm diameter spot, courtesy of the tyro; good for him!)

This writeup brought to you by the number 1, the letter K, large amounts of Benedryl and codeine, and a fever. Sorry about the mess.

A Belated Father's Daylog.

Note: The following contains parental sentiment. Those readers allergic to such material may feel it necessary to move along and read something else.

I have great sons. This obvious revelation comes not from any thoughtful gift or handmade card, but just by watching and spending time with them over a long weekend.

I took Thursday and Friday of last week off due to Vix galavanting with her sister out of town. This was a trip they had planned for months, and it was only last week that she realized she would be gone on Father's Day weekend. "I completely forgot about it," she said. "I can go the next weekend."

"Oh for crying out loud," I said. "Go ahead and go. It's not like I'm your dad or anything."

Thursday I spent running errands and shopping for boring necessities: Chlorine tablets, hamburger meat, a case of bottled water.

Friday I and the boys (plus a friend of SweetFaceBoy) went to a local water park. We arrived a half hour after it opened and already lines were forming at some of the rides. This was RunningHammer's first ever trip to a water park, and as amped as he was, he showed amazing patience for a four-year old. I cut the big boys loose to serve their own brand of courteous mayhem on the park while RunningHammer and I set up base camp at the Kid Park, where the slides and wave pools are appropriately tot-sized.

At one point, after he and I had explored all there was to explore in the kiddie area, we decided to walk around and look for the boys.

Hammer wanted to go on a Big Boy ride, and after discussing the possibilities, we decided on a relatively safe one with a fairly short line. Well, 24 minutes in to the wait and about five stories in the air, SweetFace turns to me and whispers, "I'm a little worried for Hammer."

He was by far the smallest kid up there, just an inch taller than the necessary "Accompanied by Adult" height. "Daddy," he said. "This is kinda really not too much fun. Can we go down and have lunch?"

Whether this was nerves or real hunger, I don't know, but we were just feet away from the top and the quickest way down, regardless. Unfortunately, a glance confirmed my worst fear. The contraption we were to ride down in, a huge yellow inner tube with handles for fear and places for butts, looked too big for my little guy. He would slip right through.

"He can go with us, Dad," SweetFace said, an oh-crap-what-have-I-gotten-my-little-brother-in-to look etched across his eyes. "We'll watch him."

"That's OK, bub. He'll go with me." With that, they scrambled in to their tube and spun away, dropping as fast as my good judgement.

Our turn. "Can he sit in my lap?" I asked the bored attendant.

"No." Yawn. "He has to sit by himself."

By this point, I think I was more nervous than he was. He gamely sat as high as he could and held on to the handles. Another father (trying to remember the number to the Child Welfare hotline, I'm sure) and his daughter climbed in.

"Boy-oh-boy, are we going to have some fun!" I patted his arm and sounded as excited as I could. "You ready, buddy?"

"Yes!" And off we went.

We hooted and hollered, and after one wide-eyed, face-trembling swing high up a wall, all seemed well. The tube spun and splashed. Smiles and glee all around. I looked away from Hammer for a second to glance down the flume.

"He's going through!" Second Dad said.

I looked back to see little suntanned feet, eyes and wet hair poking up from the seat. Second Dad grabbed one arm, I took the other, and we pulled him back. "You OK?" I shouted.

"Yes. I'm fine." As in: Look, Dad -- I'm a stimulus junkie and this is a nice big fix, so take it easy.

A few more turns, a couple of spins and we splashed in to the exit pool. The big boys, already out and waiting, jumped and whooped and pumped their fists when they saw Hammer.

"How old is he?" said Second Dad.


"Man. He was a brave boy to do that. I doubt you could get most kids his age even up there."

I thanked him, thanked him and then thanked him again for his help. Once we were on solid ground, the big boys tousled his wet hair, patted him on his tiny shoulders and dealt high-fives until everyone's hand hurt.

"How was that, buddy?" Hammer let out a scream of joy and, I think, relief.

"FUN!" And then, "Can we go back to my pool now and have lunch?"

"Boy, Dad," SweetFace said, hushed to me and off to the side. "Hammer really is brave for a little kid."

The big boys bolted for another ride, and Hammer and I retired to our table for lunch. He had peanut butter and jelly. I, appropriately, had turkey.

We were quiet for a while, then, between bites, he said, "I am really brave to go down that big boy ride."

"Yes you are."

A few more bites in silence. Several threads of string cheese amid the cacophony of the kid park.



"I don't want to go on any more big boy rides today."

"That's fine, my pal."

"Maybe another day. When I'm seven."

"When you're seven. Deal."

Then he jumped up from the table and dashed to the pool, yelling for me to join him.

Saturday, toasted and tired from nine hours in the sun and water, we vegged. Vonda MaShone left for his dad's apartment and TinyGranny went to housesit for the weekend. Oppressive heat and humidity beneath an unending motionless layer of brooding stormclouds kept outdoor movement to a minimum. That left us to Legos, GameCube, the pc and Animal Planet. We ventured out once for hamburger buns, hot dog buns and cookies-n-cream ice cream, and I slaved for 19 minutes over the grill, but that was about it. RunningHammer fell asleep in my and Vix's bed with six of his stuffed animals. SweetFaceBoy and I, dismayed with the offerings on Sci-Fi, watched Napoleon Dynamite.

"I think that's really a story about friendship," SweetFaceBoy said, putting the empty ice cream bowls in the dishwasher.

I tucked him in and kissed him goodnight and walked to my room. Hammer had hogged the bed so I scooched him over and stretched out. The weary clock radio whispered the BBC. As the words crumbled to elegant mumbles, he wiggled closer and put his face on my arm. In moments, I was asleep.

Father's Day morning I was greeted by the Hammer, who jumped on my right shoulder, the bad one, and said, almost timidly, "Happy Father's Day." Then, after a body-slam hug, he added, "The sun is shining, Daddy. It's time a-get up."

SweetFace still slept, and I made coffee and watched the morning news shows. He woke up in time for pancakes. The three of us sat together around our table, enjoying a late breakfast, reliving the park ("Remember Daddy when we were in the big pool and all those huuuuge waves came and they knocked you down? Remember?"), reciting lines from the movie ("'I caught you a delicious bass.'").

SweetFaceBoy became the mother hen, making sure his little brother didn't eat too fast, that he chewed all his food, held his fork correctly and wiped his face with a napkin, adding that he had to clean up his toys after we ate. The little one did as he was told and did not complain. Then the older one got up and returned with my Father's Day cards.

They were silly and perfect. I kissed and hugged and thanked them both. RunningHammer insisted on giving me a high five that stung my hand.

"Hammer signed almost his whole name," sweetFace said. "I only helped him a little."

After wiping down the kitchen, I went outside and vacuumed the pool. Hammer played on the steps, got bored, then swam side to side in the shallow part. Once I was done, SweetFaceBoy ran out of the house and did a cannonball in the deep end. I puttered in the garden for a while, pulling weeds and turning earth for a herb and veggie garden. Then it was my turn for a cannonball.

We floated on a huge raft for a while before SweetFace and I wrestled each other off of it. RunningHammer threw brightly colored sinkers which SweetFace and I dove for, trying to see how many we could get in one breath. SweetFace had me flip him in to the pool: he curled in to a ball on the side of the pool, then I lifted him to my shoulders, steadied him by his feet and back and spun him head-over-heels in to the deep end (this is why I lift weights). Hammer gave me an aquatic version of his patented "take-down hug" -- a flying lunge from the steps, a vise-grip hold around the neck, an elaborate splash.

Tummies began to grumble and dark clouds began to roll in from the west. "Let's do Daddy Whale-Baby Whale," RunningHammer said.

"OK." He climbed on to my back.

"Hey, what about me?"

"You get on me, and Hammer will hold on to you."

"Don't choke me. Just hold on lightly like I'm doing to Dad."


Off we went. With long slow stokes I swam the length of the pool and back underwater. I dove twice to bring the boys under. They laughed and shrieked. Deep and penetrating, their laughter cut through the water, forming chords with the prisms shimmering on the pool bottom. They multiplied, rolling like marbles upon one another until I was swimming through an aural fractal.

As I got closer to the steps, the boys peeled off and swam the rest themselves. "Let's do it again."

We did, and each time the boys hopped off earlier and swam further on the way back, giggling as they did. I don't like to contemplate the deeper meaning, if any, of that. At least not yet.

Thunder tumbled through the clouds like huge empty dumpsters, warning us to get out. SweetFace brought us towels and made sure that Hammer was fairly well dried off before he went inside. "Now wrap yourself in the towel so you don't get the couch wet."

After the storm blew over we went out for an early dinner. SweetFace could not decide whether to call it linner or dunch, lunner or dinch. He kept his brother in line at the restaurant, which wasn't really that tough, just a rerun of breakfast, and I simply enjoyed my meal.

We came home, watched a little Animal Planet ("CRIKEY!! 'E's a biggun!"), and I fixed the boys a second dessert. RunningHammer began to yawn so I put him in his jammies, read a book to him and kissed him goodnight. "Happy Father's Day," he whispered.

Meanwhile, SweetFaceBoy had tidied the rest off the house to the point that it looked like no one lived here. "Can you watch me play Tony Hawk for a little while?"

Eventually he agreed to bed. He insisted on listening to "Holiday" before I tucked him in and kissed him goodnight and turned off the light. "Happy Father's Day, Dad."

"Thanks, pal. It was the best."

I started for the door in the dark, careful not to find a lost Lego with my bare feet.

"Can you lay down with me?"

"Sure." He's got the best bed in the house.

"And you're not getting up to do any work or look for any jobs or anything."


We talked softly about soccer, lightning, drumming and summer until the gaps between sentences flowed over the words themselves, and he turned his head and joined the oceanic rhythm of sleep. "Happy Father's Day."

It couldn't have been better.

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