Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Can't Be Left Alone

Mrs Elliott's out of town for a couple days.

I'm glad it won't be for longer than that because I am managing to injure myself daily.

First, I was knocking about the kitchen yesterday evening and managed to slice the index finger on my left hand nearly to the bone at the third knuckle while I was "knuckleheadedly" using a paring knife -- a very sharp paring knife -- to remove the foil from a bottle of wine.

As I paused to look at the slash and determine my course of action, Mrs Elliott called to discuss an issue regarding a new window we are having put in for her office.

So thar I was, phone pressed up to my right ear, left hand up above my head to minimize the bleeding, wandering about the house seeking medical supplies.

The cut was clearly too deep to be closed with Band Aids, but that's all I had at hand. There was nothing for it but to wrap the injured area as well as I could with a half-dozen or so Band Aids until we finished talking.

Once the conversation was over, I surveyed the heap of bandage wrappers and wads of blood-soaked cotton, and three things were clear: 1. Bandages alone were not going to keep this wound closed through the night (the location on my hand isn't easy to dress), 2. I either needed sutures or butterfly closures to keep the thing closed, and 3. I had a great big mess to clean up.

Two or three sutures aren't reason enough to drive to St. Charles, so I hunted around the house for the More Serious First-Aid Kit, found it, painted the skin around the wound with tincture of benzoin (which makes your skin super-grippy for bandages), applied some triple antibiotic to the owie, closed it with two butterfly closures, then covered the area with a couple of fabric Band Aids.

I spent the rest of the evening babying the owie -- it was (and is still) extremely painful and sensitive: it woke me up at least a dozen times last night, either out of simple aching, or whenever I rolled over in bed or moved my hand around and the finger caught on a blanket or sheet. Today I've adjusting to not using my left index finger for anything requiring strength 'cause it hurts like a sumbitch.

Anyway, the dressing remained in place, and has so all day long today. I dressed it well.

(Two people today asked my why I didn't use Super Glue to close the wound, and I totally would have except I didn't think of it and the First Aid kit didn't have any. While I was at Ace Hardware today I picked up a bottle for the kit. The stuff rocks for closing wounds.)

That would be enough for self-injury except that today when I was helping an employee move a cubicle divider (I was the one who was backing up) when my foot banged into a heavy carton that had been left in the middle of the room and I fell down backwards.

I could have laid there for a moment, gathering my wits and assessing possible damage but the calf of my right leg decided that it was the PERFECT moment to cramp up. I leapt to my feet to ease the cramp.

Thanks, leg.

While the lads said I did a very "graceful" fall (one said he'd give me a "9" for that one), I knew immediately that I had landed directly, and with great force, on my right shoulder. My weak shoulder, my tender shoulder.

I broke that shoulder many many years ago in the same damn auto accident that broke my legs, which has since required a knee replacement and a fused ankle, and while the shoulder has not given me much trouble other than the occasional achiness in these recent years, it's really aching now.

Ow ow ow.

So, to summarize:

100% of the days that Mrs Elliott has been away, I have managed to:

On day 1: Cut finger nearly to bone. Paste it back together with items found around the house.
On day 2: Bang the crap out of my old shoulder injury.

Only an idiot could miss the implications. That is why I am vowing that on day 3 (that's tomorrow), I'm staying in bed.

Miss Johnson -- cancel all my appointments. And mix me a drink.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

I Know My Wife . . .

. . . has gotten used to me when she comes across me searing a piece of meat in the kitchen with a propane torch and doesn't even find it surprising enough to comment on.

Not me:
Skip Steele, executive chef at the new Bogart's Smokehouse in Soulard, caramelizes a rack of ribs with a propane torch. (Evan S. Benn/Post-Dispatch)

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

On Avoiding Saying Something Trite

Jack was out at the Summit Saloon last night, watching Alabama crush Notre Dame like rampaging water buffaloes mowing through a crowd of underfed Punjabs.

At halftime I hailed a cab for a lift home and left my van overnight.

Mrs Elliott kindly dropped me off downtown to fetch it this morning. Since I still had some time on the meter before the parking police would tag it, I dropped into Sidelines for one of their $5 "Two Eggs Your Way" breakfasts.

The place was close to empty that early in the morning, so I took a seat at the bar.

The bartender asked, "Coffee or Bloody Mary?"

I laughed and asked for coffee.

She poured a cup and passed it over, then offered her hand.

"What's your name?"


"Mine's Jody -- nice to meet you."


Jody, I thought to myself. Funny thing is that the past two times we were at Sidelines to watch a game, I noticed a man and a woman, and the woman looked like a dead ringer for Jody Foster, the actor--making her the winner of Bend's Annual Jody Foster Lookalike Contest.

I thought to mention that fact to the bartender but decided that she's probably heard Jody Foster's name mentioned more than once when she introduces herself, so I shelved the idea and let it rest.

Few minutes later, a fellow sat down a few seats away from me at the bar. The bartender went through the same ritual, introducing herself to the guy.

"Jody," he said. "That's a nice name. I haven't heard that name for a while." He paused to think.

"Jody Foster," he stated.

I am so glad I kept my bazoo shut.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

It's ALIVE!!!

Back in September of 2008, a month after we moved to Bend, I tried to receive digital over the air (OTA) channels from the transmitting towers atop Awbrey Butte. But even though the towers are less than a mile away, we got nothing on a pair of cheap UHF rabbit ears. So I got a second-hand high-gain antenna and pointed it at the top of the butte, and still got nothing watchable.

I figured that the antenna could not "see" the towers, that there must be a ridge between our house and the transmitters. The only other source of digital TV transmissions was from Grizzly Peak -- on the opposite side of the butte from us and completely invisible from our side.

So I shelved the project and signed up with Bend Broadband.

A few months ago we cancelled our TV contract with them -- cut the cord -- and switched to streaming programs and movies on the Internet, using an $80 Roku with HD output, and haven't looked back.

Except in two areas: local news and sports.

Because news and weather make me feel more connected to the community, I sent an email to the engineering staff at KTVZ, requesting help; and the next day their broadcast engineer, Cliff Peck, came by to check out the signal situation. From the cab of his pickup truck on the street he was able to pull in a perfectly fine picture using an UHF antenna similar to the one I used back in '08 (a four-bay bowtie with a reflector screen).

Why was he able to get a good signal now, when there was nothing earlier? It's unclear -- he speculated that the digital transmitters weren't up and running back when I first tried it.

I fetched my antenna out of storage, leaned it against the front of the house, pointed toward the top of the butte, tied it to the unused cable feed to the living room, and Hey Presto! we had picture. We got PBS, NBC, ABC, and Fox. Also CW -- whatever that is. CBS doesn't have a digital signal hereabouts. But what we have is fine: I can watch NewsChannel 21 for local news, and the football games shown on those networks. ESPN I ain't got -- those are "away games" for me: "Away" meaning I have to watch those games at a sports bar, or a friend's house, or by other means.

The antenna's location wasn't ideal: every time a vehicle drove by on the street it disrupted the signal because it was between the antenna and the top of the butte. So this morning I mounted the antenna up on the side of the house. Climbing around on top of a ladder in 25 degree weather. But it wasn't going to mount itself.

And now we have perfect reception.

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