Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Vacation recap, part 1

We had such a good time at Osage Beach, Missouri, that it will take two whole updates to recap it all. Part of the reason is that it was our first trip with a new digital camera, so we took lots of pics. I'll get right to it:

First we got in the family van and prepared for the 14-hour drive

As we drove through Texas, Oklahoma and Missouri, the road signs got weirder and weirder:

We also had to learn the local dialect

Missouri is a beautiful state, so we made sure to take time and enjoy nature

We were a little concerned about having two 2-year-old boys, a 9-year-old and an 11-year-old all in the same house for a week. But everybody did great and we had no broken bones, exploded appliances or exotic diseases.

I even got to play board games and video games throughout the week.

I got up really early one morning to play golf with my brother and my dad. Little Jack had trouble sleeping at night so I started out pretty tired, but once the coffee kicked in I played up to my potential. I had the high score... so I win, right?

Here's a picture of my brother bowling during vacation. He's really good. One time he scored a 137. With no bumpers.

The lakehouse had cable TV, which we don't get at home, so it was pretty interesting seeing all those new channels. I learned a lot about the world.

Finally, considering that we stayed on a lake, we of course went boating and tubing. I won the record for fastest wipout, but Whiskers got the most hang time. It's not really fair, though, since she weighs only 9 pounds.

And that was our trip. It was a lot of fun, and I hope to go again next year!

(Check back in a couple days for part 2. It might even have real pictures.)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Later taters!

It's vacation time! My family, including parents, grandaparents, aunt/uncle, cousins, friends, etc... has taken a week's vacation together every summer for 30 years. It's one of our cherished family traditions.

If you've been reading here a while, you may recall that last year's vacation was... dangerous. Five, count 'em, five family members were seen in the Emergency Room throughout the week. And that doesn't count my broken toe or the van's flat tire. The whole week was something out of National Lampoon's.

On that note, here's a crazy video for you, and a sample of a totally bizare combination of things. The famous "Holiday Road" song from the National Lampoon's Vacation movies was written and performed by Lindsey Buckingham, formerly of Fleetwood Mac. He's one of my favorite musicians, and the National Lampoon's Vacation movies are also among my favorite movies. So the music video for the song must be awesome, right?

Ha. Feel free to spend two and a half minutes of your life watching this insanity. If you find a single way that the video connects to the song's lyrics, please clue me in by leaving a comment.

It's like M. Night Shyamalan, George Lucas and Michael Bay formed a craptacular directing superpower to make this thing:

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

My changing faith -- an intro

So a while ago I mentioned that a good chunk of my religous beliefs, especially core tenets such as salvation and redemption, are quite different than most of the people at my church. And probably quite different than most people in my family, although it's not something I've really brought up before.

Several people have asked what in the world I'm talking about, so over the next few months I'll share some things from time to time. Before I do, though, it's extremely important to make a few points:

  1. I'm not sharing to preach to anyone, or to change anybody else's mind about issues of faith. The purpose is simply to share my journey.
  2. Jesus once said that each person must "carry his cross" to follow him. I've had to give up some things and carry my "cross" to find what I was looking for. You may not have the same cross. Each person has to find their own. So you may not have to give up the same things I did. And that's cool with me.
  3. I have an easy yet powerful way to test my always-shifting ideas on spiritual things -- does my new thought make me a better person?

The third point has a great example from the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Stephen Covey tells the story of a time when he saw a man and his two sons on a subway. The boys were totally out of control, running up and down the subway car, yelling and growling, and causing a major disruption for the rest of the passengers. The father just sat there, oblivious to his rowdy sons and seemingly apathetic about the whole scene.

Covey walked up to the father, ready to give his two cents on good parenting. When he asked the father what was going on, this was the answer:

"We just came from the hospital. My wife, the boys' mother, had been sick for a while and she died today. We don't really know how to react or what to do. We're kind of lost, especially me."

How do you think Mr. Covey's behavior changed towards this man? Immediately he felt a huge wave of compassion, and tried to help with the boys however he could. He didnt' have to focus on his own behavior or his attitude -- all of his reponses flowed naturally from the new perception of this man who had just lost his wife, and the boys who had lost their mother. In 10 seconds he changed from frustration and anger to genuine compassion.

That story sums up what has happened to me over the last two years. I used to focus a lot on my habits and attitude, yet always failed in my attempts to have true compassion for people. I faked it well, though.

Since then my perspective has changed, and with it the attitudes and behaviors have changed all by themselves. I didn't have to work on them. That's my hint that this track is a good one for me.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Update from Bloodshot, USA

The Rough

I can honestly say I don't ever remember being this sick. I'm on day five of fever, congestion, raw throat and nasty eyes. My body is beginning to feel a little bit better, but the sinus trouble and eyes haven't improved at all. And since it's all viral, there's really nothing that can be done other than wait this thing out. I am on a Z-pack (Azithromycin), Allerx Dose Pack and antihistamine eye drops, but was told that these mostly qualify as medicines that "can't hurt", rather than something that will definitely help. I was honored to get the Z-pack, though. Hey, if it's good enough for Chlamydia, it's good enough for me.

The official diagnosis was fairly simple -- everybody in my family had a virus, but it resulted in slightly different symptoms for everybody. For me, I got sinusitis, rhinitis, and conjunctivitis (pinkeye) in both eyes. Oh... did I forget to mention? Yesterday the opthamologist noted that my right eye was already showing unmistakable signs of the infection. Today it's beet red just like the other eye.

Jamie said that my picture from the last post doesn't really do my eyes justice, as they really look a lot worse than that. You'll just have to take her word for it, because I don't plan on taking another picture to save this for posterity.

The Fun

In my travels to doctors and pharmacies over the past couple of days, I've worn my sunglasses at all times. It's just easier to hide these nasty eyes from view, to avoid the awkward questions or disgusted reactions from people.

I've found, though, that a precisely timed lowering of the sunglasses can have a dramatic effect on a conversation. Below are some examples, and at least two of them actually happened:

Me: My name's Michael Wilson, I'm here to see a doctor.
Receptionist: What seems to be the trouble?
Me: (Lowers sunglasses briefly)
Receptionist: (Rolls backward in her chair)... Ooooookay. Please fill out this form.

Pharmacist: How can I help you?
Me: I'd like to fill these three prescriptions.
Pharmacist: Oh... sorry, we don't carry those eye drops here. But I can fill the other two. Do you really need the eye drops tonight, or can you wait a day or two for me to order it?
Me: (Lowers sunglasses briefly)
Pharmacist: Whoa. Right. I'll get on the phone right now and call every pharmacy in the area until I find it.

Lady: Hey, hot stuff. There's nothing sexier than a tall, redheaded man wearing sunglasses indoors. How about we go back to my place for a while?
Me: (Lowers sunglasses briefly)
Lady: (Screams, vomits and faints)
Me: That's what you get for propositioning a married man, temptress.


I had some big plans at work and in the gym this week, but that's all on hold for a while. The YMCA probably wouldn't let me in anyway. Looks like I'll just keep taking it easy and try to help the healing process along as fast as possible.

One big upside of this is that I got to buy an eyepatch to put on at night, to keep me from clawing at these itchy eyelids in my sleep. So I look like a pirate at bedtime, which is cool.

Last night I slept in the den, sitting upright in our big, padded chair. Laying down flat just clogs up my head and makes my snoring so bad that Jamie can't get any rest. So imagine the scene last night: I was in the den, in the dark, sitting in the chair and wearing an eyepatch.

I almost wished that someone would try to break in our back door, only to find some crazy dude with an eyepatch waiting for them.

"Arrrrr! You here to plunder? You gotta go through me first, you scurvy dog!"

And if that didn't work, I could always turn on the light and lower the eyepatch.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Pitiful Daddy

I started feeling not-so-great last Thursday morning, and by Thursday night I was definitely under the weather. Chills, fever, body aches... the whole nine yards.

Samantha and Jack had battled a virus for much of the last week. Samantha's seemed to settle in her stomach and left her nauseated and lethargic. Jack just spiked a fever, as he always does (over 104 again multiple times), but he also had some sinus issues.

It hit Jamie too, at the exact same time it hit me. I had always thought there was some law of nature that would prevent both parents from getting sick at the same time, but apparently I was wrong. Jamie shared Samantha's symptoms -- nausea and no energy.

I shared Jack's fun -- fever and sinus trouble. Only I had one bonus item that didn't hit anyone else: the virus settled in my left eye. The eye was watery all day Thursday and Friday, but other than that it looked fairly normal. On Saturday it started getting red. Today it looks and feels like a devil eye.

Thankfully everyone else has recovered nicely, and I'm the only one still sick. I honestly don't remember the last time I was this sick, and especially for three days. Usually I'm over a bug in about 24 hours.

This meant that I didn't get to speak at church this morning. And who knows if I'll even be allowed to go to the office this week, with my eye looking like it does. Fortunately I already had an opthamologist appointment for tomorrow morning to get my LASIK dry-eye evaluated. Now I'll have something extra special to show them and see if they can treat:

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

This all reminds me of the 90% rule, which states that there are thousands of things in our lives that cumulatively add up to less than 10% of our attention, as long as they're going well. But if just one of those things goes wrong, then that one thing can command 90% or more of our attention.

For example, how often do you think about your spinal health? Probably not often. How often would you think about it if you had severe back pain?

Well, I've never really thought much about having normal, healthy eyes, or being able to swallow without feeling like there's broken glass in my throat. But I'm sure thinking about it now!