Monday, August 31, 2009

Vindication! Oh, yeah, Baby!

I remember the day we bought our Brand New 2006 Honda Accord to this day. We had searched for a slightly used car, but Hondas maintain their value so well that we found better value in buying a new one. This was going to be Rachael's car and we decided to get the nice one. EX, with leather, sunroof, heated seats, etc.

Of course, we made the nieve statement that all people do when buying a new car.

"It's going to look just like this for as long as we own it!"

C'mon, am I the only one to ever make such a ludicrous statement?

Anyway, the car became even more Rachael's than I'd first counted on. In fact, 3 or 4 months may sometimes go by between times I'm even in the car. I always anticipate the look on Rachael's face when I mention we may have to take her Honda somewhere.

"You mean.... you're going to get in my car?"

As soon as she realizes I am, she usually always rushes out the front door with two trash bags to clear an extra spot for me. This involves removing approximately 33 pounds of papers, boxes, and assorted other items Rachael can not live without having within arms reach while driving.

About once every few weeks, Rachael loses her keys. Now, they usually turn up, but even more consistent is the conversation that ensues.

"Haven't you found your spare key yet?"

"There never was a spare key."

"Hon, I know there was a spare key, because I specifically remember them giving us both of them."

"There never was a spare key!" Now a little more insistent.

Of course, it's hard to win that argument.

Until today.

Today, Pastor Ken became one of my favorite people in the whole wide world. Rachael had a flat tire, he helped her change it, and she found her spare key inside the owner's manual which was inside the glove box.

Now, seeing as how it's been in the glove box for 4 years now, I know most of you are probably wondering why she hasn't found it before now. To answer that, you'd have to realize that Rachael's glove box and Rachael's trunk are quite similar and I didn't even know there WAS a bottom to Rachael's trunk. Hidden in the midst of all the other glove-box treasures was the spare key the dealership never gave us.

OK, OK, I know I shouldn't want to say 'neener, neener' but there's still a part of me that feels the urge.

I wonder if I called it Righteous Vindication if it would make it sound any better? Kind of like Righteous Anger?

For Rachael's side of the story, be sure to check out her post here.

Shadrach, Meshach, and the Tri-Tip Roast

I made a decision the other day.

Because Life With Rachael is so often filled with completely unexpected turns of events, I decided to wear my small digital camera attached to my belt at all times. Recently, on several occasions, I have wished for it, but to no avail. What happened Friday night solidified my decision even more.

From now on, I will not be without my camera.

I had actually made this decision on Thursday afternoon. I wore my camera in to work Friday, had it on all day, never took it off.

Until I got home. And then I made my mistake. I figured that we were all home, we were just going to eat dinner and play a game of Life with my kids and dad. I mean, what could happen?

Unfortunately, I left the camera on my dresser in my bedroom.

And when you really need it, and it's not there, it's either too late to get it, or you don't think of it.

My dad came over because this is the last time we will see him for a long time. I had went to pick him up and we got home as Rachael was getting dinner together.

I went into my bedroom, got out of my nice 'office clothes', put on some shorts and a T-shirt, and came back into the living room. At that point, I smelled the unmistakeable odor of burning meat. Apparently, Rachael was BBQ'ing the Tri-Tip on my grill.

I went outside to check on it.

I looked down at the thermometer.

It said it was 650 degrees inside the BBQ. Now, I didn't even know my BBQ would GET to 650 degrees. Now, I know. Unfortunately, by the time I got my camera, the temperature had decreased into the normal range.

I was immediately concerned with the safety ramifications of having a chunk of metal rivaling the core temperature of the sun emanating heat to the side of the house, just 8 inches away.

I felt the handles of the grill. While hot enough to burn if held too long, I wanted to relieve the intense heat as soon as possible. I felt for the least blistering portion of the handle and began to lift.

Now in the Bible story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, the three of them are cast into a fiery furnace heated seven times it's normal temperature. I'm thinking this was around the same temperature as my BBQ, 650 degrees. When the kings helpers threw the 3 men into the furnace, the heat from the fire was so intense that it killed them. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were unscathed and unscorched. The Bible says that the smell of fire was not even on them.

Our Tri-Tip, and my arm hairs were not so fortunate.

I don't think God had as big of a vested interest in my arm hairs as he did in preserving the lives of three of his faithful followers.

The lid came up in one smooth, fluid motion.

The escaping air was so hot as to be unbearable.

The heat alone was enough to singe my arm hairs. No flame reached my arm. But all the hairs on the side of my arm from my wrist almost to my elbow were definitely well-done.
Ahh, there's nothing like the smell of burned arm-hairs.

Rachael had decided to cook the Tri-Tip, wrapped in aluminum.

Did you know that aluminum actually begins to flake and come apart in temperatures exceeding 600 degrees? I did not either. I have realized that there are so many things I might never know in life if I was not blessed to live my Life With Rachael.

We opened/broke up the aluminum foil and surveyed the damage inside. The Tri-Tips were charred significantly on the outside, but still uncooked inside. We put them back on the BBQ.

By this time, the BBQ was off. I went to relight it. My grill has three different areas to light and cook on, each controlled and regulated by it's own knob you turn. The first one worked fine. The second one was stuck, but eventually turned, allowing the gas to flow. The third one appeared to be welded, or melted solid.
We cooked on 2/3 of the grill.
When the meat was done, we brought it in, and began the process of removing the charred sections. All in all, the meat was not great, but it was not terrible.
We had a nice meal, played Life with the kids, and went to bed.

Saturday, in the daylight, I went out to check on the grill to see if there was any previously unnoticed damage. All three knobs were working fine now. Good news!

I looked underneath, where the propane tank and the hoses are.

The propane hose was melted to the bottom of my grill.

Now, I'm fairly confident that the hoses used on BBQ's are meant to withstand a fair amount of heat. Them being used in a BBQ and all.

I don't think they've been tested at 650 degrees.

'Cause let me tell you, they will melt.

I have attached a picture for your amusement. And while I'm going to have to replace the hoses on the BBQ and try to re-grow some arm hair, you, my readers, will probably reap the benefits of seeing photos more often, as my decision to keep a camera handy at all times has decidedly been solidified with this recent adventure in my Life With Rachael.

So, I'm thinking that the next time Rachael BBQ's she had either better seek some Divine Intervention, on par with that of Shadrach, Meshack, and Abednego, or we'd better keep the grill on the South side of 500.

My arm hairs can't take much more.

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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Check Out My Wordle!

And, if you want to see a newer Wordle, click here.

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Congratulations to MatFam, the contest winner!

A little over a week ago, I announced a contest with a prize of a $10 Starbucks card to the winner.  The contest is now over.  Congratulations to MatFam.  Thanks for the feedback!
-The Poor Husband.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Chevron Saga Continues

This was probably the hottest weekend in Salinas so far this year. It was in the 90's, which is fairly remarkable for here.

So, I figured I'd celebrate by doing the yard work I have not been able to do recently. See Troubles of the Heart, if you're interested in how I've been spending my time lately.

But, I had a problem.

I needed gas for my lawn mower.
The closest and most convenient station is the now infamous Chevron where Rachael enjoyed playing her friendly games of 'Red Rover! Red Rover! Send the gas hose right over!' with the owner.
Fortunately, the owner and employees have never seen Rachael and I together.
So I can still show my face there without turning red.
While I was pumping, I noticed something new on the gas pumps.
A little sign was now attached.
A sign that did not used to be there. A brand new sign. It caught my attention, so I looked in closer to see what it said.
It was a warning to drivers that they will be charged for damages if they drive off without removing the gas hose from their car.
Interestingly enough, we've lived here for 5 1/2 years, and this sign was never there before.
Until the Rachael incident.
I like to think of this new sign as The Rachael Sign.
I pointed it out to her and thought of the comedian.
That is fitting in so many ways, don't you think?
*Be sure to check out my wife's blog, My Poor Husband for her comments on this.*

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Friday, August 28, 2009

Troubles of the Heart, Part 5

***Note- don't start here, unless you've read the first 4 posts. Here's a link to the first part.***

The big day had finally arrived.

The alarm clock told me it was time to get up when 5:15 appeared.

We got to the hospital at 6AM. We filled out all the paperwork. I was admitted and in a hospital bed by around 6:30. My blood was drawn.

I was told my procedure was scheduled for 11 AM.

Which meant I had around 4 hours to just sit there. Rachael had brought some discourse on communicating with God that had been written in the 1600's by some monk named Brother Lawrence. She began reading to me. It was actually fairly good.

I think the person in the other bed thought we were praying or chanting or something, because I heard him tell his friends that he'd went to church yesterday to make sure everything was fine, just in case he didn't make it through the day.

I then read a portion of The Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis. I only finished a couple of chapters but it's shaping up to be a good read. I really love C.S. Lewis. While he's most famous for his Chronicles of Narnia series, he has written some of the best apologetic works on Christianity that one could hope to read.

Before I know it, and quite a bit earlier than my scheduled 11 AM appointment with the nurse that is sure to see me naked, I'm being given Valium and Benadryl.

Things are about to get fun.

I am wheeled down to the 'operating room'. Apparently, there's been a confusion of the schedule, because they're not ready for me. But, they don't want to send me back to the 3rd floor of the hospital, so I'm wheeled over to an unused corner of the hallway, just outside the doors to the monitoring room. This room is filled with people watching monitors of what is happening in the 'operating room'.

While parked just outside the room, I hear an unusual, and somewhat disconcerting conversation.

"Yeah, we've had 2 or 3 already cancel today."

"Really! I didn't think that many people would even read the newspaper."

While this helps explain why I got in so much earlier, it does make you think. I never did figure out what they were talking about, but my Valium-affected thoughts figured there must have been a mishap with a fellow Angiogram victim in the preceding days.

But, hey, according to the law of averages, that just means mine has a better chance of going great!

While laying in the hallway with nothing but a hospital gown on, a nurse comes by. She tells me that the entire gown will have to be removed. Evidentally because hospital gowns are best-known for how well they cover you. Before I know it, I'm lying naked under a blanket that several people seem to have a need to pull up just to make sure everything's ready.

In anticipation of this moment, I made sure to shave, hoping to avoid the embarrassment of needing any help in this area.

But, as I had once before discovered when I had my vasectomy, the shaving had to be repeated.

And, of course, it's completed by a female nurse.

I'd say 'Good Times!' here, trying to be sarcastic, but I wouldn't want anyone to possibly get the wrong idea. The times we were having were anything but good.

But the best was just around the corner.

Dr. Ash Jain walked in the room. Shortly before he arrived, I was once again told what a great doctor he is. I truly am thankful that he is the one to do my procedure.

As is his manner, he gets right to work. One of the things I have grown to like and admire about him is that he gets right down to business, but seems to always explain what is going on and what I will be feeling and usually asks if I have any questions.

The only question I have at this point is how soon this will all be over.

And, of course, The BIG Question.

"Do I have buildup/plaque/blockage in my arteries?"

The deadening shot is delivered to my groin area. While this hurt a bit, it was not too bad. Next came the incision. The incision is made into the large artery you find in your groin area. Once an entrance hole is available, a catheter is pushed into the vein and then all the way up the area right below your heart.

This catheter is used as a vehicle to deliver the iodine solution dye that will then be used by the machine to look at the inside of my arteries.

As the catheter tube made its way to the bottom part of my heart, it caused my heart to beat somewhat erratically at times. I was concerned at first, but Dr. Jain told me this was completely normal.

What happened next felt anything but normal.

Dr. Jain told me that he was ready to administer the dye. This is released directly below the heart and then moves immediately into the heart and then back out. He told me that I'd feel a warm, flushing feeling in my chest.

I did indeed!

Have you ever went out sledding or playing in the snow and spent so long there that your body was chilled all over? You have breathed so much ice-cold air, that it feels like your insides are frozen?

And then you take a drink of steaming hot chocolate? You know how you can feel it burn all the way down?

Well, multiply that feeling so that you are picturing it happening to your entire chest, and that's kind of what this felt like. Kind of, but not exact.

The warm sensation comes on fast, from the bottom of your heart, into the heart, and then out again. It is actually over quite quickly, but is quite the experience while it is happening.

Dr. Jain begins to take pictures. I can actually see the inside of a portion of my artery on the monitor. It looks good to me, but this is the first time I've ever seen the inside of an artery, so I don't have much of a baseline.

I do see some little squiggly piece of something going crazy inside of me. I'm trying to figure out what it is when I hear the best words I've heart in a long time.

"There's no blockage. Your arteries are completely clear. The only thing we'll have to work on from here out is just the electrical system in your heart."

I don't think I quite realized how much I'd been stressing about this, until I knew everything was OK. Rachael was brought in, and she said that she had not seen my face look so free from worry for a couple of months now.

I was thrilled.

I spent the next few hours in my hospital bed. They have to ensure you will not start bleeding through the incision as you could bleed to death fairly quickly since it's in such a large artery.

I was discharged around 3 PM and got home that evening. I spent that night and the next day with my leg in a straight position as much as possible.

I went back to see Dr. Jain for a follow-up appointment August 26th. After looking at everything, he once again assured me that all was well. He said I could go back to normal activities and that he didn't need to see me for another 3 months, and that was just for a routing follow-up visit.

And so ends my Troubles of the Heart. I praise God for His watch-care, your thoughts and prayers, and for putting me in the hands of a very capable doctor!

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Troubles of the Heart, Part 4

In the previous 3 posts, I described my heart arrhythmia, my hospital stay, Rachael's kung-fu prowess, and some amazing friends. If you haven't read those posts, you'll want to start on part 1 and work your way here.

After getting out of the hospital and spending Father's Day at Denny's with my wonderful friends, I thought many times in the next few weeks about what incredible friends I truly do have.

Meanwhile, my follow-up appointment was getting ever closer. Doctor Ash Jain had scheduled me to come in and take an echo-cardiogram, stress test, EKG. Kind of a 3 for 1 package. While we knew I had some issues with the electrical system in my heart, Dr. Jain wanted to be sure there were no other problems.

After some nervous anticipation, the big day arrived.

I was a little concerned, and not just about the results. I was also afraid I'd have to take my shirt off in public.

One should always remember to just check their modesty in at the door when visiting the doctor. I try to do that, but normally fail.

I should mention that I am not a guy that feels comfortable walking around with no shirt on. I'm one of those weirdos that even wears their shirt while swimming. This has been true ever since I gained more weight than I am comfortable displaying sans shirt. I don't think anyone other than my immediate family has seen me without a shirt in the last 5-10 years, or so.

Until this day.

The nurse comes in and tells me I'll need to take off my outer shirt and T-shirt. I was halfway expecting this, but still was not happy.

I became less so very shortly.

The nurse came in and told me we needed to go into another office. I guess they keep rooms segregated according to purpose, I don't know. Here we have the disrobing room, that one is the Waiting Nervously for Results Room, here's the Questions for the Doctor Room, and that room on the end with the padlock across it is the You Might Get To Regain Some of Your Pride and Dignity Room. Judging by the padlock, it didn't look like many people entered that one.

We were apparently going to leave The Disrobing Room, in search of The Treadmill Room.

She opens the door to an open (and empty) hallway. So far, so good. I'm thinking we're just going to sneak in unnoticed into one of the doors leading off of this hallway, the one right before the one with the padlocks.

Not a chance.

She leads me clear down the hallway. "Oh, hi there good-looking nurse. I'm sure glad you're the first one to see my bare belly."

I think when you see someone that has obviously attempted to stay in shape, it makes you even more conscious of your own lack of doing so.

We continue down the hallway. Before I know it, we are walking through the backside of the waiting room where approximately 2000 people are sitting. I am pretty sure every one of them stood up just to get a better view of the bare belly walking through the back of the office.

We then go out into a PUBLIC hallway that connects this office with another one. I'm still walking with no shirt on. I walk by many people. Many being defined by at least 4. We finally get to The Treadmill Room and I try to duck in as soon as I can, only to be confronted with the fact that I am now alone in the room, with my shirt off, with 3 women. Not one. Not two. Three.

Ahh, but it gets better.

The reason there are three women in the room is because one has to monitor the equipment. Typically, the other nurse attaches the electrodes to approximately 48 locations on your chest and belly. Not today.

Today, (lucky me) the 3rd nurse is in training. What this means to me is that she puts one on wrong, the other nurse has to look at it, it has to be pulled off, and then redone. Additionally, when the Nurse-In-Training is completely finished, the training nurse has to step over and they both scrutinize every square inch of my upper body. Oh, the joy!

It's finally time to get on the treadmill. Weirdly enough, I'm actually looking forward to it, just so I won't be under such close scrutiny.

I ask if I can wear my shirt while on the treadmill.

Stupid question.

I begin.

Within about 30 seconds the nurse over on the equipment makes her first observation. While she says this in a totally detached nurse voice, it still doesn't make me feel better.

"Guess you don't work out much, huh?"

"No, I have to sit behind a desk all day, and only have time to walk about a half hour each night after work."

"Yeah, well you really should make it a point to find a way to work out more."

I tried to answer, but by this time I was breathing so hard I couldn't talk much more if I even wanted to hope to persevere on the test.

The treadmill I was on would increase the incline and the speed every minute or so. Within no time, I was jogging.

Until the nurse on the controls came over and told me that I really didn't need to jog, as it was still on walking speed.


About this time, I could see the other two nurses talking quietly. I'm not sure, but I think they were making bets concerning whether my heart or lungs would explode first.

The nurse on the gadgets saved either of them from having to pay up. By this time, my heart rate was around 130 or so and my blood pressure was over 200.

She told me I could go lay down on the bed.

Now, when you get an echo-cardiogram EKG stress test, you are being monitored the entire time, while exercising. However, as soon as you're done exercising, they want to use the echo-cardiogram machine to look at pictures of your heart, kind of like an ultra-sound for a pregnant lady.

To accomplish this, you have to run from the treadmill to the bed.

I did as requested.

She looked at my heart rhythms and told me that my heart was beating irregularly again. However, she said that is not too unusual with the exercise I'd just completed. I told her about the irregular beating that had originally brought me in and how I'd went 28 hours in that condition before it converted back to a normal pattern.

"Well, you were lucky. Most people that happens to never convert."

"Really? What do they do?"

"We can usually give them medication to keep their heart rate down, but they learn to live with it, many of them for the rest of their life."

I thought that was the bad news.

Fortunately, my heart began beating normally again. I received the even worse news after I got dressed and went down to talk to my Doctor, who'd already had a chance to look at the results and was in The Waiting Nervously For Results Room.

"We've got a potential problem here. The one test came out fine, but the one that's typically the most reliable shows evidence that you may have blockage in your arteries. I'm going to have to schedule you an angiogram."

"That sounds like fun."

"It is, but we have to do it."

In all honesty, I had no idea what an angiogram was. I knew 'angio' had to do with the heart, and 'gram' had to do with conveying a message (like telegram), so I figured it would be something that they used to take a picture of my heart.

It was.

But it was a little more involved than I originally thought it would be.

For the fifth, (and I believe the final) post on this, be sure to check back tomorrow.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Bonus Post- Rachael's Pet Peeves

So, I'm sitting beside Rachael on the couch tonight, working on my new blog which will rate customer service at various local businesses. I will be evaluating at least one good and one bad business each week.

Anyway, Rachael keeps acting very strange. Now, regular readers of My Poor Husband or Life With Rachael know that Rachael acting a little strange sometimes is not necessarily a novel thing, but tonight was particularly interesting.

She kept shaking her head, saying 'Uuuuuuuoo!", sticking out her tongue, and cringing, all at the same time.

After about the 10th time of this, I thought she was preparing to have a seizure or something. I asked her what was wrong.

She told me she was thinking about people licking napkins.

I know, I know, we all sit around thinking about people licking napkins.

Nothing weird there.

Apparently she is writing a blog post about her pet peeves. One of which happens to be when she sees someone lick a napkin. In actuality, they don't even have to lick the napkin, as long as the napkin is in close proximity to the mouth. Which sometimes happens. It being a napkin and all.

Anyway, when she sees this happen, she says it's similar to the feeling you get when someone scrapes their fingernails on the chalkboard. (Does this even happen anymore? Do schools even have chalkboards?)

So, every time Rachael writes about this, she apparently relives the sensation.

It's actually quite funny to see, and I knew you'd want to hear about it.

As a bonus, I went to the kitchen, grabbed a napkin, licked it for Rachael to see, and took a picture of her reaction. Enjoy!

Faithfully yours,
The Poor Husband.

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Troubles of the Heart, Part 3

If you have not yet read parts 1 and 2, please do so now.

After being forced to substitute the attention of the heart monitor for that of Rachael, I slept fitfully at best. Several times during the night, I'd wake up with my heart tapping me awake. Or at least that's how it felt. I could physically feel it beating wildly inside my chest every time it went into arrhythmia. At times, it felt like it would explode.

I found out that the reason I'd felt light-headed during these times was that the heart was beating so fast, it was forced to beat shallow beats. Therefore, the blood was never carrying enough oxygen to the body and brain and without enough oxygen, the brain decides to take a nap. Fortunately, I had not actually passed out, especially while driving.

When I awoke, I felt like I had not had hardly any sleep at all. However, I was greeted with the best news of the last couple of days!

My heart had regained a normal rhythm.

Whether due to the medication, lots of prayers, the body's natural desire to stay true to what's 'right', or a combination of the three, my heart was now beating a normal beat. While walking to the beat of a different drum is cool for teenagers and rock stars, I was very happy to be back to 'normal'.

It was the best Father's Day present I could hope for. Although a close second was when I saw my kids a few hours later.

Rachael showed up at the hospital bearing gifts, kids, cards, and a story. It's one of those stories, like many on My Poor Husband, that are much funnier in the retelling, than they ever are the first time you hear them.

Apparently, Rachael's emotions were a bit on edge, as can be expected. That morning, Rebecca was taking a bath at the Best Western just down the street, on the corner of Mowry and I-880. Rebecca has a habit of dipping her head completely under the water. It's just something she likes to do.

It normally does not cause any problems.

That morning was not normal.

Rachael was on edge.

Rachael was trying to get Rebecca's attention. She went to talk to her. The door was locked. She called out Rebecca's name.


And Again.

At this point, as I understand it, Rachael decided to test out her incredibly honed martial arts skills.

"Wax on! Wax off!"

Only this was not going to be a harmless wax job.

Rachael, running on pure adrenaline, put all of her weight into a Super-Kick. The kind that you see in the movies where the door flies open fast enough to knock the person down that's on the other side of the door.

Either Rachael did not read the same script the actors do, or she failed her karate lessons, because when she kicked the door with all of her might, nothing positive happened.

I say nothing positive, because while she did not help herself gain entrance, she did succeed in putting a hole in the door.

At this point, even with your head underwater, you can feel the vibrations of the room shaking. Rachael said that she heard Rebecca raise her head from the water and say in her innocent 9-year old sweet voice, "What Mom?"

She had no idea what had been going on.

But she was all right. That was the main thing.

Of course, later on, the Best Western felt that the main thing was that they got paid $140 for the door that probably cost them $50 to replace.

I found all of this out Father's Day morning, the day my heart returned to normal.

Fortunately, it did not cause my heart to go back into arrhythmia.

Rachael and the kids all came to see me. The kids had all written me notes on cards and they brought me a great Father's Day gift.

By this time, my other good friend Bryan was there. The doctor told me I'd probably be getting out around noon, so we all decided to go to Denny's for a nice Father's Day lunch.

My doctor scheduled a follow-up appointment for an echo-cardiogram, stress test, EKG. While I knew the test was sure to be fun, I had no idea what it would lead to. For that, you'll have to check out the next post.

One of the things that really hit home to me was the fact that I have a great family and great friends, and I will be eternally grateful for both. Mike and Maria and Bryan all came down from somewhere between Sacramento and Chico to be with me in my time of need. My other friend, James had also left Sacramento and was on his way when I was discharged.

On Father's Day.

With no notice.

I've heard it said that a man can consider himself fortunate if he finds one true friend in his entire lifetime. My blessing basket is truly over-flowing.

I am grateful.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Troubles of the Heart, Part 2

If you have not read the first post, please do so before you read this one.

I had just broken the Indy 500 speed record for the fastest time ever to be placed in an Emergency Room bed after walking in off the street.

I was just starting to realize that I may have bigger problems today than whether or not I'll make it to my nephews graduation on time.

Meanwhile, my heart continues to merrily beat along in a pounding, indiscernible rhythm.

Eventually, a doctor came by and said we were waiting on some of the blood test results, and that we'd hopefully know something after I'm admitted.

The only good thing about this is that my Emergency Room visit requires less of a co-pay if I'm admitted to the hospital.

At the time, though, I didn't even think about that. I was beginning to get the idea that this was turning into, if not a BIG deal, something more than unimportant.

Soon, I was hearing words like, 'this afternoon', 'tonight', and eventually 'overnight'. While these are great words when you're making plans for a weekend with your wife, they are less than encouraging when referencing your visit at the hospital. I called Rachael and told her that I would probably not be coming home right away, and that I may have to stay overnight. I also asked her if she could work out arrangements to get my sister picked up from the graduation, as it looked like I would be incapacitated.

Rachael took care of everything. One of the things I love and appreciate most about Life With Rachael is the incredible love and devotion she has and shows. Through this all, she was my favorite nurse.

After awhile, someone came by and asked for my insurance card and had me sign all the necessary paperwork.

Shortly after, I was admitted and transferred to my own room. Or, more precisely, my own 1/2 of a room, roughly a 6 foot by 10 foot rectangle of space that is just large enough for 1/2 of a single bed, a chair, and a curtain that is difficult to close without draping it around the chair, equipment, and visitors if you have them.

After receiving my own room, I was soon hooked up to the big vital-sign-monitoring machine, as well as to a portable machine that allowed me to see my heart rate and look at the chart showing the rhythmic patterns my heart was producing. Or, in my case, the arrhythmias my heart was producing. While this was somewhat fascinating, I was staring face to face with a little screen telling me that all was not OK.

My normal heart rate is quite slow. Has been all of my life. At rest, my heart rate varies from about 48-52 beats per minute. If I walk in off the street and sit down at Long's Drugs' heart machine, it will only be around 58-62 beats a minute.

It was now beating 80-90 beats per minute. When I was completely still. When I so much as cleared my throat, or repositioned my leg, the rate shot up to 120+ per minute.

I got up to use the restroom.

I walked the 10 feet or so to the restroom that was in my room.

My heart rate was between 180 and 190 beats per minute.

Not good.

In addition to the fast pace of the heart was the fact that it was beating in its very strange anti-rhythms.

In addition to this, it would go into an actual arrhythmia every few minutes. I knew when this happened because I could feel my heart beating madly in my chest. And my monitor would say 'Arrhythmia in progress'. When it went into arrhythmia, it would go up from its now 'normal' 80 to 90 beats per minute to anywhere from 100-150 beats per minute, hover there for a minute or so, then go back to 80 or 90 beats per minute. All while I am laying perfectly still, expending no energy or movement.

After watching this several times, I got pretty good at predicting the number of beats per minute (bpm) each arrhythmia achieved.

By this time, my dad, my sister, and Rachael were there and I'd have them look at the screen while I tried to guess the bpm. I actually got pretty good at it. While I can't say it was fun, it provided some release from an otherwise difficult situation.

My heart was beating so quickly and so wildly that the vital-sign machine I was hooked up to would scream at the nurses every few seconds/minutes. This went on for a bit, and apparently there was only one solution to provide the room with some peace and quiet.

They shut off the alarms.

I soon met my heart doctor, Doctor Ash Jain. Little did I know it at the time, but it turns out that Doctor Jain is one of the best heart doctors around. I know this because every nurse or orderly that asked me who my doctor was always responded with, "Well, you're in good hands. He's the best there is!"

This happened so many times, I began to get suspicious. I figured it may be part of a new PR campaign of Washington hospital:

"OK, so every time you go into a patients room, be sure to ask them their doctor's name. When they tell you, try to remember it long enough to say, 'Oh, Wow! Doctor _________ is the best! You're in great hands'. Be sure to look genuine when you say this."

This suspicion was proven false by two means:
1. I asked them. When they told me that Dr. Jain was the best, I said, "Yeah, but I bet you say that to all the patients." They assured me that this was not true and they said it sincerely enough that I was pretty sure they were being honest with me.
2.I actually listened when the same nurses asked other patients who their doctors were. These other patients were not told the same thing I had been.

So, as it turns out, I really was in great hands. Dr. Jain is apparently one of the best at what he does. I am supremely thankful for this. I am thankful to him for doing what it took to be the best, and I am thankful to God for putting me in the right place at the right time to fall under his care.

Doctor Jain told me that I would definitely be staying the night and that I'd be on some medication to hopefully help my heart convert back to a normal rhythm. I asked him what we were going to do if it did not. He told me we'd see what happens, but for now, he wanted to try this.

By this time, in addition to my dad and Rachael, my good friends Mike and Maria and their son Brandon, were there as well. Maria had taken the time to scout out a hotel and had offered to take our kids there so that Rachael could stay the night with me, if she wanted.

This sounded like a great plan. The nurse said it would be fine.

We settled in for the night.

Unfortunately, the security guard and the head nurse had other ideas. Apparently, the head nurse was one of those people that loves to use (and abuse) the power they have. Instead of trying to find a way to help people, people like her seem to actually take pleasure out of telling people no.

I actually teach customer service classes at my work. I understand that you sometimes have to say 'no' to a customer. But you should never take joy in it. You should truly empathize with the customer and share their disappointment with them, if need be. You should not feel like a bigger man (or woman) based on how many people you were able to enforce the rules with.

After a couple of run-ins with the said security guard and an argument with the head-nurse, whose decision was apparently the final word for the security guard, Rachael was eventually banished into the cold, dark night, leaving me to spend the time alone with my arrhythmic-displaying heart monitor. While caressing my heart monitor was quite comforting, it did not really compare with having Rachael there with me.

Little did I know that Rachael was going to have her own fear-filled adventure, quite apart from the one I was having. I found out all about it the next day.

Come back again for the next section in Troubles of the Heart.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Troubles of the Heart

It was the Saturday before Father's Day. My sister was here from Montana. Her son (my nephew) was graduating High School today and my sister was staying with us so she could attend. I had promised my sister that we'd go together to watch him as he graduates to the next big step of his life.

The night before, I awoke with my heart pounding. Now, I know that phrase is somewhat overused by writers to convey the message of nervous excitement, fear, dread of death, etc. But, in this case, my heart was actually pounding. It was beating in a strangely erratic manner that left me feeling quite concerned.

I, like many males, absolutely love to go to the doctor.

I felt my heart beating crazily for a few minutes and decided that if it was still going crazy in the morning, I'd have it looked at. Meanwhile, I went back to sleep.

My heart continued to pound away erratically in my chest. It woke me up numerous times during the night. Each time, I got a little more concerned than the time before, but now it was the middle of the night. I did not want to wake up Rachael and all the kids just to go to the doctor and have him tell me that it was no big deal. So, while my heart is definitely dancing to the beat of a different drum, I continue to ignore it and attempt to sleep through it.

After an incredibly fitful night of nervous sleep, my alarm clock tells me it's time to get up, get ready, and go. My heart is trying to tell me otherwise as it is still beating it's dyslexic cadence. My sister came all the way from Montana for this special day, and I do not want to let her down. Before I leave, I have Rachael put her head to my chest. There's no disguising the look of alarm that covers her face.

I tell her I'm sure everything will be fine and promise to go in to the doctor if it gets worse.

It got worse.

On the drive up to Fremont, I am forced to pull into the slow lane and start for the shoulder as I start to feel light-headed and am faced with the very real possibility of passing out.

Something you don't want to do at 65 mph.

After this happens several more times, I finally decide that this is something serious enough to go to the doctor about. I called Rachael and asked her to find the closest Urgent Care to where I was. At this point, I was still thinking that I'd go in, they'd listen and tell me it was no big deal.

It's now about 7:20AM. We had to get to the graduation early in order to ensure a seat. The graduation was scheduled to start at 9AM. I told my sister that I was going to drop her off, go get checked out, and then come right back. I asked her to save me a seat.

I drove to the address Rachael gave me and was dismayed to see that they did not open until 9AM, the same time as the graduation. I had wanted to use an Urgent Care, as they are typically much cheaper, and you usually don't have to wait as long as what you have to in a Hospital Emergency Room. As it turns out, waiting in the emergency room was not going to be a problem.

I ask Rachael to get online and look for the closest hospital that is in our network. Oh, the joys of health plans! I can't wait until we have the Obama health plan in place. That way it'll just be one huge network and we'll be able to go anywhere. And the DMV workers can trade places with the doctors so that they all have a little variety and continue to stay so cheery. And customer service is sure to increase. And the government has always been so good about running programs efficiently. Just like they do with............, well I can't think of anything. Not even CalTrans. Oh the joy!

Fortunately, I am actually quite close to a hospital, and by sheer luck or divine oversight, they are in our network. I drive over there as quickly as the traffic lights and Saturday morning drivers will allow.

I am now concerned that I am going to miss my nephew's graduation, simply because I'll still be waiting to have my DMV number called at 9AM in the Emergency Room.

Boy was I was wrong.

I walk in and the lady at the window asks me what is wrong. I let her know that my heart has been racing and beating irratically for about 8 or 9 hours now, and that I have started to feel a little light-headed. Apparently, heart issues are a big concern. She asks me to step to a small waiting section, where she has a nurse listen to my heart.

He raises his stethoscope.

And listens.

I'm watching his face to see his reaction, and am a little disconcerted at the result. He looks up and asks me if I'm able to walk. I said yes. I mean, I just drove an hour and a half from Salinas and walked all over half the hospital trying to find the Emergency Room. Of course I can walk.

"Come with me", he says somewhat urgently.

He leads me over to an open bed in the Emergency Room. He asks me to slip into a hospital gown and lie down. I do so.

By the time I am just starting to settle into position in the bed, I'm already getting an EKG.

I haven't been at the hospital 5 minutes yet.

I haven't filled out any paperwork.

They haven't even seen my insurance card yet. This, more than anything, gives me pause for concern. I know that hospitals are there to save lives and all, but usually the first thing out of their mouth is a question about insurance. In this case, they didn't even know if I had insurance or not, and I was already getting an EKG and some blood tests.

One of the nurses began to make small talk with me, asking me why I'd been dressed up so early on a Saturday morning. I explained that I'd been on my way to my nephew's graduation, but that my heart had other plans. I told her that the graduation started at 9AM and that I was still hoping to be there. It was almost 8 AM by now.

She didn't answer with her voice, but her body language told me what I was afraid of by now.

I would not be going to the graduation. In fact, I think she may have checked a new box on her check-in sheet that was situated right next to "May need psychiatric exam."

I was starting to get concerned.

Come back tomorrow for what happens next.

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Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Wake-Up Call

The first words I heard this morning, as I slowly drifted back from the sweet, sweet land of sleep were,

"Mom...." "Mom!" "MOM!"

This actually was repeated many more times, but if I accurately recorded exactly how many I am concerned that the size-limit google allows for their blog posts might be exceeded.

Finally, a faint whisper in return-


"Can I play on the computer?"

A pause.

"Mom...." (pause) "Mom!" (pause) "MOM!"

The same faint whisper-


"Can I play on the computer?"

Again, no answer. This repeated several more times. Again, I will leave it to your imagination so that I don't have to actually type it out.

Finally, after the 32nd attempt, (or at least the 5th), our son said in his sweet 1st grade voice,

"AYE-AYE-YIE" Pronounced this would be "I-I-YIE" with each successive syllable getting progressively louder. This is an expression all 3 of my kids seemed to learn in the last year or two at school, and I think all of them have taken to it somewhat, but my youngest seems to have developed a special affinity for it every time he gets frustrated.

I am thankful that God blessed Rachael with a job at a Christian school, so that our kids can attend there. So far, "AYE-AYE-YIE" rates as about as bad as the kids have brought home from their friends at school.

Trying to rest, the process began to repeat.

I didn't think I could take it much longer. Somehow, Rachael awakes just long enough to give a false hope that she's going to be able to make a decision about playing on the computer, but then instantly drifts back to sleep. I am not so lucky.



Rachael finally wakes up. At this point, I help Ben out and we ask her if she's ok with him playing on the computer. The answer makes him squeal with delight.

He practices his sprinting moves as he runs to the office.

I tell Rachael how many times Ben had asked. About that same time Rebecca, our eldest daughter walked in the room. She mentioned the other sleep induced response Rachael is famous for.

She said, in her newly acquired 4th grade voice, "Sometimes when we ask you a question when you're still half-asleep, the answer comes out 'ahhhhuhhhh'. It's hard to tell if that's a yes or a no. You have to listen really close. Yes sounds just a little bit different than no."

Now of course, Rachael would be back asleep by this point anyway, and would probably not even remember the question or the answer.

I'm just thankful that our kids have NEVER taken advantage of that situation. I know that if your kids are like mine, they would never, EVER take advantage of their mom's sleepy responses. Which is a good thing, because if they wanted to, they could probably get in a lot of trouble.

"Mom, can we have the keys to the Honda? We want to go joy-riding!"
"Gee, thanks Mom! - Catch ya later!" Of course, the fact that my oldest daughter is only 9 might impose some natural restrictions on this one, as I'm pretty sure her feet would have a hard time reaching the pedals.

"Mom, my sisters are being mean to me. Can I hit them?"
"Woo-hoo- No time-out this time!"

"Mom, I'm going to go practice my knife-juggling in the kitchen, OK?"
"Wow- Thanks Mom! I didn't think you would let me."

After Rebecca finished talking about the indiscernibility of Rachael's 'yes' from her 'no' when she is half-asleep, she asked us if we had noticed the bagels she had brought us for breakfast. For the past few months, she has tried to make sure to bring us breakfast in bed every Saturday morning. This has resulted in messy kitchens, extra dishes, but most of all it has been an affirmation of her love for both of us. I've been quite touched by it.

"Mom, do you remember me bringing in the bagel?"
"Your eyes were open."

Ahh, the bliss of half-sleep. When you're awake enough to still feel comforted and somewhat cradled by your soft bed and comfy pillows, but not awake enough to really register what's going on around you.

The more I think about this, I can see where I have really been missing the boat. Next Saturday is going to be different.

"Hon, I'm going to go buy a new Corvette today."
"With the 401(k) money."
"OK, kids, she agreed. you stay here and take care of momma."

"Hon, I think I'll leave you to take care of the kids this whole weekend. I'm gonna go spend some time with the guys."
"Hey! Thanks!"

And then get out of there before she actually wakes up.

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Contest, Anyone?

So, I've been doing this blog for about 2 weeks now. Hopefully, it's been long enough for you to develop a response to it.

I'm hoping you like it.

But, it's hard to know.

While I'm still working on the mind-reading thing, mainly to communicate better with Rachael, I'm thinking I probably better not hold my breath.

So, I figured I'd just ask you.

What do you think?

I know, I know, most of you won't probably take the time to answer just because you're asked.

So, I figured I'd sweeten the pot a little.

How about if I say please?

Or beg?

OK, OK- You are a tough negotiator. I suppose that if you spend your time answering my 3 questions, you should be compensated.

I'm thinking a $10 Starbucks Card may be in order. Now if you are like me and absolutely despise the taste of coffee, I can get the same amount in a gift card from another place, if you like (and if you're the winner).

So, here's how it will work. I have 3 questions for you. If you answer all of them, I'll enter you in a drawing which will take place a week from tomorrow, with the winner announced on Saturday, August 29th, 2009. I will ask my lovely wife, Vanna, if she will be kind enough to draw the name, to ensure that all is fair. The only other rule is that Vanna can not win. Because I know what everyone would think, even if she won fair and square. No one would believe it.

The 3 questions are:

1. What 3 things that I'm currently doing would you suggest be done differently to make the blog more appealing to you?

2. What do you like about the blog?

3. What 3 ideas do you have for new content for the blog?

That's it! You're honest opinions are much appreciated. If you can think of anything else you'd like me to know, feel free.

Looking forward to Life With Rachael!


"The rain in Spain, falls mainly in the plain."

I'm not sure why, but when I was thinking about this post on communication, this quote from My Fair Lady came into my head. While I believe her lessons were mainly focused on the actual pronunciation or annunciation of words, I thought it would be fun to delve into the actual act of communication.

You would think that communication would be easier now than ever. The last 25 years have seen the common-place usage of a ton of communication devices that were previously non-existent or prohibitively expensive.

And yet, as the entire world gets more 'connected' I sometimes wonder if we are drifting further apart.

Does an email or text message adequately substitute for spending quality time together? No, but that is often all we have time for.

So, I was pondering communication and how it relates to Life With Rachael. Even now, Rachael and I are sitting about 3 feet apart. Both of us are busily typing away.

Neither of us are talking.

Which is sometimes OK.

Shoot, sometimes it's probably better than OK. It's a blessing.

What made me decide to write this post was a funny incident that happened tonight. Our kids attend Pacific Coast Christian Academy, where my wife also works. School starts on Thursday, and tonight was their open house. *click on cartoon for full-size version.*

We all met in the main sanctuary of the church that hosts the school. We listened to the general information, applauded the teachers and then were dismissed to go to the classrooms.

This year is quite special for Rachael, as she gets her own music classroom. She has fixed it up very nice.

I was not sure if Rachael would be coming with me and the kids to their classroom, or if she needed to go to her music classroom. I asked her what she was going to do.

She responded, "I'm going to leave now to get down to my music classroom so I can set something up. I'll meet you there."

Now, Rachael is the one that actually works at the school. She is the one that stays more informed with what is going on there. So, when she told me to meet her in her music classroom, I did. It seemed funny to me that I wasn't going to go to the kids classrooms, but I figured she had her reasons.

So, while all the other parents were busily making their way into their kids classrooms, I took all three of our kids down to Rachael's music room.

We walked in the door.

Rachael took one look at us and said, "Why aren't you taking Ben to his classroom? You're supposed to be there."

Now, I have been an active participant in Life With Rachael long enough to realize fairly quickly when one of our conversations has evidently derailed somewhere aways back on the track. I replayed the conversation in my head. Yeah, it was as I remembered it.

So, I said, "I thought I was supposed to go to their classroom, but you told me you were going to your classroom and that you'd meet me here."

I have not yet perfected the art of mind-reading. I am working on it. I have become an amateur student of body language, which yields many clues to what a person is thinking. But I'm still not that great at the actual mind-reading.

When Rachael said she was going to her classroom and she'd meet me there, I didn't realize that 'there' in Rachael's sentence was referring to Ben's classroom, a place that had not even been mentioned in our conversation.

I simply must get better at this mind-reading stuff.

Another, somewhat related communication style of Rachael's is what I'm going to call the hyper-transition.

We went to the Salinas air show a couple of weeks ago. Prior to that we were discussing the schedule, what time it started, etc. The Hyper-Transition went something like this:

"I think the show starts around noon. I was thinking we could go get a late brunch and then head over there."

Rachael: "Sounds good."

"I don't think it will be a big deal if we're not there right when it starts, do you?"

Rachael: "I like Ben's room."


Rachael: "I like Ben's room."

"Wow, that was an interesting and abrupt transition."

Rachael: "Yeah, I just thought about it. But, I really like Ben's room."

While this conversation was harmless enough, one must be careful. Imagine some of the possibilities:

"Honey, do you like the blue tie or the yellow tie better?"

Rachael: "I like yellow."

After getting home and getting dressed up to go to dinner, I walk in wearing the yellow tie.

Rachael: "Oh, I liked the blue tie better. Why'd you get the yellow one?"

"Because you said you liked it better. Remember, I asked you which you liked better and you said you liked yellow."

Rachael: "Well, I do like yellow. When you asked me, it just made me think of colors, and I like yellow better than blue."

The opportunities for confusion can be endless.

If only communication skills were as easy to learn as diction.

The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain.

Or maybe,

The words in the brain are understood when said plain.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Bulletin Board That Almost Wasn't, The Curtains That Grew, and the 6-Mile Zone

This past weekend, I spent one of the longest hours of my life.

This year, Rachael finally got an official classroom for her to teach music in. Needless to say, she is very, very excited. When Rachael is excited, she is very animated, very awesome to behold, and almost impossible to say no to.

She asked me if I'd help her re-do the boards in her classroom. I asked her how long she thought it would take. She said probably no more than an hour, maybe two.

I agreed.

Several funny things happened as we prepared her classroom. The fact that the 1-2 hours turned out to be more than 6 hours, even with my dad helping for 4 of it, was not one of them.

Sorry, I digress.

Rachael is very creative. She has tremendous talent.

She decided that the boards would look much better covered in fabric instead of with papers. She had previously purchased sheets to do so.

All well.

All fine.

We began to put the red fabric on the first board. This would have been a much simpler task if the sheet was large enough to cover the board.

I asked Rachael if she had measured the board. She said that she had not, but that someone had given the measurements to her. She then said in her guilty-conscience way, that she had not been able to find them while purchasing the fabric, but that she kind of had them in her head, and that she was sure it would be enough.

You all can see how well that worked out.

One of our next projects was to put white fabric over a bulletin board, attach that board to the wall, and then hang a curtain rod on it, over which Rachael would drape some nice red curtains.

All was going fine until I looked closer at the curtains.

Me: "Hey, hon, don't you want these two curtains to be the same length?"

Rachael: "They are the same length."
Me: "Um, no, they're not. One's quite a bit longer than the other one."
Rachael: "Are you sure? I looked at them closely. Even the pictures were the same.
Me: "No, they're completely different. The measurements are different and the pictures are completely different."
At this time, I showed the pictures to Rachael. She took one glance at them and said, "See- they are exactly the same."
I have attached both pictures for your viewing pleasure.

After pointing out the fact that one curtain was significantly shorter than the other, and that it was clearly so in the picture, Rachael decided that we would be needing to buy another curtain that was the correct size.

On to the next project.
We were working on stapling the fabric to one of the other bulletin boards. Now, it's very important that there are no wrinkles in the fabric. To accomplish this, you need to have two people working together. One stands on the back side of the board and staples. The other stands on the front-side of the board so they can hold the board and make sure the fabric looks good before the other one finalizes it's placement with the staples.
I was the stapler. Rachael was the holder/looker.
Working together, our conversation tended to be fairly monotonous.
Me: "Ok?"
Rachael: "Yeah."

Me: "Ok?"
Rachael: "Yeah."
Me: "Ok?"
Rachael: "Yeah."
After doing this several times, I noticed that Rachael's tone had changed. I looked at her. She had that far-away look that indicates she has left this terrestrial plane and is hovering in the celestial sphere know as The Rachael Zone. Just to be sure, I tried again.
Me: "Ok?"
Rachael: "Yeah."
I watched her eyes the entire time I asked her and while she answered. I'm not sure what she was looking at, but it was approximately 6 miles away, through the walls of the building and not even in the same direction as the fabric she was supposed to be looking at.

Each time I said "OK", she was saying "Yeah", as if in a trance, without ever looking at the fabric.
I called her attention to it. She shook herself back to the here and now. We both laughed a bit.
We finished that board and began working on another. We began the process again. Once again, I noticed the monotone, the vacant stare, the fact that Rachael was not even looking in the general direction of the fabric we were working on.
Working together, we finally finished everything.
Rachael shared with me all of her ideas to cover-up the errors that were made through a lack of attention-to-detail.
I'm sure it will all turn out great. It almost always does. Rachael is very creative and this creativity often compensates for her lack of attention-to-detail.
This got me to thinking. Which came first?

Did Rachael's above-average creative ability lead her to quit paying attention to the details, knowing that her creativity could overcome any obstacle?
Or, does Rachael just naturally pay less attention to detail, and so her brain compensated by blessing her with exceptional creativity, kind of like a blind person's other senses becoming enhanced to help compensate for the lack of sight.
Later that day, I expressed my thoughts to Rachael. We talked about it for awhile. She sometimes minimizes the difficulty her lack-of-planning and preparation causes for Her Poor Husband and others, so I told her a story. A true story. I am currently reading the book by John C. Maxwell, titled The 21 Irrefutable Laws Of Leadership. He shares this story in that book, highlighting the importance of paying attention to the details.
In 1911, two groups were in a race to be the first to reach the South Pole. One of the groups was led by Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen. The other group was led by a Brit by the name of Robert Falcon Scott. Amundsen paid attention to the details; Scott did not. Amundsen had proper food and fuel. Scott did not. Amundsen made it to the South Pole a good month before Scott. Amundsen made it safely home with all of his party. Scott and all of his party died of thirst/hunger and exposure.
Rachael looked at me. She said, "That's not a good story. I thought the story was gonna be about how one person made it by great planning, but the other was able to come up with some totally new way of doing things, or something like that."

Me: "No, he died. Him and all of his party."
Rachael: "I don't think I like that story."
Now, to be fair, I must admit that the room turned out great. Rachael's creativity once again saved the day. That does not surprise me that much, as I have witnessed it many, many times. Rachael does have some amazing talent. She will post some 'after' pictures on her post tomorrow. You should check them out. Especially the red bulletin board. You'd never know that hiding beneath the carefully placed decorations are gaping holes.
All's well that ends well, I guess.
So, while my title probably fell short of something really original, like The Lion, The Witch, and Wardrobe, you now know the story of The Bulletin Board That Almost Wasn't, The Curtains That Grew, and the 6-Mile Zone.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Rachael's Intelligence Concerns

So the other day, Rachael and I were talking, and she said that she was somewhat concerned about her blog and mine. I asked her why.

She said that she was worried that people would think that she was not smart. Unintelligent.

I said, "Honey. Why would someone think that. I mean, I'm sure there are plenty of people that have destroyed their vehicle in a car wash and then drove away three different times with the gas nozzle still firmly attached to their car, thereby ripping the hose right off the pump."

This didn't seem to help, so I tried again.

"Hon, lots of people have probably left their purse on top of their car, in Borders, at restaurants, at practically every public area from Salinas to Sacramento. You can't be the only one."

I don't know what I was saying wrong, but this didn't seem to help either. Being the ever-compassionate husband that I am, I knew I just had to find the right words to make this situation all better.

"Hey, no one is going to think you're stupid. Lots of people have forgotten to put their makeup on, and instead substituted highly toxic sharpies that gradually absorb into your skin, mix with the aspartame that's already turning into formaldehyde in your brain and cause you to grow a 3rd eye."

I could tell that my efforts were not getting me anywhere. Rachael looked truly concerned, so I knew I had to get this right.

"Hon, look. You are not stupid. You're very bright. I don't think anyone is going to let a few hundred times of zoning, or forgetting, or nursing inside your portable tents tarnish their stellar view of you and your intelligence."

Somehow, I still wasn't getting it right. I think that the pressure of the moment may have been too much, and caused me to have a mental block, unable to come up with the right intellectual antidote to Rachael's feelings.

I quit talking before I made the situation worse.

But then I got to thinking.

What if people did get the wrong idea? What if people really did think that Rachael is unintelligent? While the $50 Rachael has earned off of her blog would be an enticing temptation, I don't think it's quite enough to sell one's dignity or public perception for.

That's why I decided to post this blog tonight.

I, better than anyone, have had a first hand glimpse into Life With Rachael. I have seen Rachael at her best and at her worst.

Rachael is forgetful. She does zone a lot. She doesn't pay attention to all the details.

But she is far from stupid.

I'm sure that all of you that know her are aware of this fact already. But, it does seem to haunt her on a fairly regular basis.

I don't know how many of you have read about multiple intelligences. If you have a child, I would highly recommend the book, How Am I Smart? as you seek to be a good parent to your child. The book delves into the subject of multiple intelligences. It is very fascinating. It's been awhile since I read the book, but I am sure you will enjoy it.

Rachael is VERY music smart. This is something I thank God for. I love to sit and listen to her play the piano and sing. It is soothing to the soul.

Rachael is also very people smart. She has great intuition. I used to have a lot harder time accepting Rachael's feelings, because I like to have a factual basis for my observations and beliefs. That being said, Rachael has an uncanny ability to size up a person and their motives and intentions. It's pretty awesome to behold.

Additionally, I took a few college courses with Rachael. She scored well on the tests and usually got A's and B's. And she'd never let me copy any of her answers.

By the way, if you've never seen Rachael take a test, it's quite the sight.

I usually have just finished bubbling in my name on the ScanTron, and I'd see Rachael get up. I'd think, "Wow, she should have went to the bathroom before class started." But, then to my astonishment, I'd watch as she turned her test in. I truly believe she's the fastest test-taker in the West.

Watching her as she works with our kids, I am eternally grateful and impressed with her ability to maneuver through the myriad of obstacles and roadblocks that kids can throw in front of you. I don't really think there's a 'parenting intelligence' but if there was, Rachael has it.

So, I know that this post is not the funniest ever. I hope you'll come back again later for all the humorous stuff. (By the way, my post tomorrow will be filled with more classic Rachael humor. We worked on her new music classroom this past weekend- Some good stuff is coming!) But, I thought it was important to give my side of the story on this issue. We all have fun laughing WITH Rachael, but I wanted to be sure my posts were never taken as serious put-downs of the lady I love.

Ok, Ok, enough sappy stuff. Come back tomorrow to see pictures of the Bulletin Board That Almost Wasn't and The Curtains That Grew, as well as a description of The 6-mile Zone. Until then!

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Heredity By Marriage Factor

Today was a good day. We had good church services and right after church we helped clean up around the church.

Then came a nap.

After the nap, my dad came over and Rachael, my dad, the kids and I all went for a short hike over by Elkhorn Slough. I love (most of the time) watching the incredible energy of children. They are incredible.

I also love seeing the world fresh through their eyes. Watching them as they discover something new allows me to see it for the second first time again. It's pretty cool.

That, however, is not the subject of this post.

On the way back from Elkhorn Slough, we were all talking as we were driving the little-worse-for-the-wear Expedition back to our house.

We passed the Chevron in Prunedale where Rachael severed not one but two of the pump nozzles. I pointed it out to my dad and of course we couldn't help but talk a little bit about it.

That's when my dad said that the conversation reminded him of something my aunt's mother did.

My aunt lives in Montana. Her mother would occasionally come and visit her.

Apparently, on one such visit, her mom came up to a stop sign, but did not notice it was there. She went right through the stop sign and hit someone that was in the intersection. While this is never a good thing, she stopped, made her apologies, made sure everyone was ok, and was soon on her way. I assume insurance handled the details.

Glad to be safely to her daughter's house, she visited her for awhile.

She soon left.

Sometime after that, she was going to visit her daughter (my aunt) again.

She came up to the exact same stop sign as before.

She did not see it, as before.

She went right through it, as before.

She hit a vehicle, just like she did the first time. She got out of her vehicle to give her apologies and make sure everyone was OK.

Imagine her surprise when she saw it was the exact same person in the exact same vehicle as the first time.

What are the odds? I mean, seriously. Stop to think about it. What are the odds of having a collision with the same person in the same car at the same intersection after not seeing the same stop sign?

I actually did the math, and it worked out to be exactly the same odds (1 in 45,853, if you want to know) as driving off three separate times with the hose still firmly inserted in your car and thereby ripping the hose right out of the gas pump.

This got me to start thinking.

Again, what are the odds. I actually figured this out again. The odds of having two separate instances happen, both with odds of 1 in 45,853 would be 1 in (45,853 x 45,853), which works out to 1 in 2,102,497,609. That's a little over 1 in 2 billion.

I don't know about you, but that seems a little too far-fetched to me to be considered coincidence.

I can only think of two rational explanations.

1. You can inherit genes and traits through marriage. When two people are married, they become one. Is it so hard to believe that they may have a melding of the gene pools? I don't know, but something to consider. Why, just the other day, I was driving down the road on the way to Pilot to get some gas, and I had an uncontrollable urge to pull over to the right. When I did, I looked up, and I was at Chevron. Since I was there anyway, I went ahead and got some gas. When I pulled away, I did NOT yank the hose out of the pump, but I could have. With my marital genetic disposition, I was probably, practically, almost close to somewhere near certainly predestined to do so. I guess it's a good thing I don't believe in predestination, or I'd probably owe Chevron $442 and I'd have to start my own blog to pay for it.

2. Rachael had heard the story of my aunt's mom's adventures with the unseen stop sign and just knew that she could do better. Sometimes getting people to laugh can be worth almost any price you have to pay, even if it is $442 and at least a small amount of publicity. I am a bit worried, though. The odds were exactly the same. If theory number 2 is correct, we may be in for an unwelcome blog post in the future, when Rachael has another Chevron incident, just to be sure she can beat out my aunt's mom.

After considering the two options, I really don't think Rachael has intentionally done any of this. If I had not lived with her for a little over 14 years and personally witnessed many zany accounts of Life With Rachael, I might not be able to believe that any one person could have so many accidental incidents in one life time. But, alas, I have witnessed enough to be a true believer.

Which leaves me with only one possible theory.

Somehow, Rachael and my aunt's mom are sharing at least a portion of the same gene pool.

We'll just hope that Rachael decides that she doesn't like to go swimming very often.

I'm not sure if Chevron (or I) can handle it.

-The Poor Husband

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Chevron Board Meeting

I think a quick recap of Rachael's Chevron exploits is in order.

It all started at the Chevron on Davis Road in Salinas, CA. Rachael decided to really test out the 4-wheel drive capabilities of our Expedition and muscled it through the car-wash, resulting in a $1000 co-pay. I'm not sure, but I think our insurance went up as well.

The second Chevron incident was at the same Chevron. Rachael drove off with the nozzle still firmly implanted in her gas tank and ripped the hose and nozzle right off of the gas pump.

The third time, Rachael was at the Chevron in Prunedale, CA. For the SECOND time, she drove off with the nozzle hanging on for dear life as it's umbilical cord was snapped free from the life-giving fuel pump.

So far, Rachael had managed to get by with nothing more than a $1000 co-pay. Chevron had not charged her a dime for any damage done.

Then, came the fourth, and hopefully the final time that Rachael decided to test the patience and tolerance of Chevron. The event took place at the Chevron in Prunedale again. To the dismay of the Chevron staff that had watched Rachael dragging the remains of their pump hose beside her Honda, they got to see a repeat. I like to think of it as a sequel to the entertaining sitcom that is known as Life With Rachael.

This fourth time, something changed.

Chevron responded differently than they ever had before.

They charged us for the damage.

They charged us a whopping $442. Now it could be argued that this was one of the best things that Chevron could have ever done. After all, the desire to pay for her damage was the genesis of the idea for Rachael's blog, My Poor Husband, and where would we all be without that?

That being said, I still wanted to find out why they charged us this time, when they never had before. I began to think about it.

To ponder.

To consider the possibilities.

My mind began to slowly overturn every over-looked rock to let the sharp sunlight of openness and honesty expose the dark and impure motives of Chevron.

I began to imagine what it must have been like for the Board Members of the Montery County Chevron Meeting.

Now, I can't be sure, but I think it must have went something like this:

\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\ This is where the screen starts to fade and the day-dream sequence begins. \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\

Chairman: "So, wrapping up, Ever since we began our relationship with GE Money Bank (GEMB), profits have been soaring. I'm proud to announce that every member of upper management will be receiving a substantial quarterly bonus, based off of the incredible revenue our late fees have been generating."

Local Manager: "Aren't you worried about the long-term consequences of these overtly irregular and unfair charges? I mean, don't you think we'll lose a bunch of customers?"

Chairman: "Well, it remains to be seen what the long-term consequences will be, but what I think we should be focusing on is the here and now. We're raking in profits like never before! I'd like to thank each of you for your part in this endeavor. And, that brings us to our last item on the agenda today. I notice that we've had an increase in the deductible for our Errors and Omissions Insurance. What is the cause of this?"

Manager of Davis Road Chevron: "Well, I know speaking for my store, we've had a bit more customer damage than normal. In fact, we had one lady that tried to barrel through our carwash with her Expedition and then returned back to the gas station at a later time and pulled one of my gas pump hoses right off of the pump when she drove off with it attached to her Honda."

Manager of Prunedale Chevron: "That's interesting, because mine is a very similar circumstance. I had some lady that drove off with the nozzle still stuck in her gas tank TWICE. The same lady! Both Times! And she was in a Honda, also."

Manager of Davis Road Chevron: "Really- It wasn't a Honda Accord was it?"

Manager of Prunedale Chevron: "Actually, it was. Hold on- Let me grab the records. It was license plate 4GSPUMP5."

Manager of Davis Road Chevron: "Oh my goodness- It's the SAME PERSON!"

Manager of Davis Road Chevron: "Wow! That's incredible. The same person. Four different incidents. What are the odds?"

Chairman: "It seems obvious to me that we need to take action. When was the last incident?"

Manager of Prunedale Chevron: "That would be at my store and it was just a short time ago. What do you think we should do?"

Chairman: "It appears to me that she needs to learn a lesson. I think charging her four or five hundred dollars should do the trick."

Manager of Prunedale Chevron: "I'll make it around $450."

Chairman: "Sounds good. Let us know what happens."

*****Fast forward to the next month's meeting*****

Chairman: "So whatever happened with the Chevron Bandit?"

Managers: "Who?"

Chairman: "The Chevron Bandit - You know, the crazy lady that has tried to destroy one of our car washes and three of our gas pumps. You were going to talk with her."

Manager of Prunedale Chevron: "You are NOT going to believe this. She agreed to pay a bill of $442. BUT, she asked if she could do it in payments and pay for it with money she's making off of her new blog, My Poor Husband. Apparently, she is going to post this whole escapade on her blog and try to make money off of it. Can you imagine!"

Chairman: "The nerve of some people. What did you tell her?"

Manager of Prunedale Chevron: "I told her that was fine as long as it was a minimum of $75 per month."

Chairman: "Just make sure she learns her lesson. Since our last meeting, I received a video that I think is her damaging another service station. She must be stopped. I'm not sure, but I think she borrowed a friend's car and had another carwash incident too.Is it legal for us to ban her from all Chevron stores?"

\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\Daydream is over- Back to Reality\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\

So, I can't be sure, but I think that's close to the way it happened.

Whatever the truth may be, I was driving by the gas station in Prunedale the other day and noticed something funny.....

They had installed a second sign that was titled "Rachael's Prices". Check it out.

**For a more recent update to this saga, check out this link.**

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