Sunday, November 20, 2005

Getting ready for Thanksgiving
This year, I've been invited to my niece's for turkey and all the fixin's. It's a first for her. At 25, she's gotten settled and ready to grow.
My nephew and my brother's ex-wife are also expected in Rochester, MN. It should be interesting.
My brother was a junk food junkie. As a result, he died of colon cancer Nov. 10, 2003, at the age of 56.
It was all the fat in his diet. Chocolate and hamburgers and pizza, meats and cheeses, etc. That, coupled with the fact that he was frightened (this time) to death of doctors, sealed his fate.
Bob's fear of them began when he was tiny. He was diagnosed with bacteria endocarditis, a hole in his heart. He wasn't given much chance; in fact, my parents were told he'd be lucky to reach two years old. But, thank God, he hung in there. Always, though, because of his early experiences, he avoided doctors. He almost died of a gall bladder problem in 1998; our stepfather had to force him to go to the hospital that time.
As for the idea of getting a regular colonoscopy when he turned 50? There was no way on earth he could have been coerced into it. As a result, by the time they found the tumor, it was the size of a grapefruit.
So, for the next year and a half, he walked around with a colostomy bag. He was surprisingly positive about having to wear it, seldom complaining. He would sit in the San Jose, Calif., sun, while living in my trailer, and bask. He'd had enough of the Minnesota cold. At times he'd go in out of the sun and watch old Westerns on TV.
We'd often meet for coffee. He looked like one of the old sourdoughs in the movies he loved so, with his scraggly beard and plaid jackets. In place of a patient little burro, he had a canvas bag that had his round cushion to sit on, to ease the pain.
Finally it got too much for him. He went and lived with my sister for a few months. Then two Novembers ago, I got the telephone call I'd been dreading. "You'd better get out here quick," my sister warned.
I gathered his son and daughter, then away we went. My girlfriend drove through a nightlong blizzard to Reno, and I took over to get us through the Sierras, steering slowly through the blowing snow, the only four-wheel-drive on U.S. 80 that early morning.
We got to visit with him for a day before he passed away. God rest his soul.

Friday, November 04, 2005

"What would Barney do?"

The trip back to Minnesota from California was less eventful than my trip out,
although we began to measure the distance in "Barneydo" miles after a
budding grade school comic cornered my acquaintance and I in the
lounge car.

"What did Barney do to the cow?" Answer: "He kissed it. Haw haw
haw." "What did Barney do with the barn?" Answer: "He
kissed it. Haw haw haw." Everything that caught his eye became a Barney target: "the barn", "the freight car", "the telephone pole". Barney as the osculatory bandit.

Henny Realyoungman had also been appointed to take care of a 2-year-old girl, and while he was going through his 14th "Barney do" repertoire she looked at me, teddy bear tucked under her arm. "Kill him", she recommended solemnly. I don't know whether she meant her babysitter or Barney, but it was...certainly advice.

The 7-year-old second-grader kept his routine up for about half-an-hour, but finally left to the applause of heartfelt sighs of relief. A nap and 100 miles later, the peanut comedy gallery showed up again.

I grabbed for my bottle of wine after Barney Leno started his second set, at which point my acquaintance observed "I imagine happy hour sales are going to skyrocket now." I finally told the boy that there was a hunting season for purple dinosaurs in season in Montana and North Dakota, and that we didn't want Barney to get shot, so would he please quit! Then his dad came and got him. At last.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

From the Sonora Library

Oh, my. From saving a lady's life on the train across Montana to playing golf in Carson City to visiting Jamestown and my mother, it has been an eventful trip so far.

The elderly lady on the train was sitting next to me when she began choking on a piece of prime rib (why is it always prime rib that chokes people?). I asked her if she wanted me to slap her on the back, and when she nodded I banged her on the back with the flat of my palm. Once...then again. She leaned forward and a piece of meat dropped out of her mouth, onto her plate, and she gasped for breath. Me, I finished my salmon.

After trains from St. Paul to Pasco, WA; a bus from Pasco to Portland; back on the train to Sacto; and another to Reno. Then a city bus to Carson City (only $3.25) and a taxi to the Pinon Plaza resort and a meeting with Bob Koczor to work on his fun tournament--I was ready to relax.

He had more than 100 golfers show up for two days of golf in Carson City, hundreds of dollars worth of prizes and gifts, free drinks, and two wonderful dinners and breakfasts. I was dragooned to act as a club carrier to winners at the Saturday night dinner, and I carried a lot. There were a lot of great prizes, I must say, and it was fun meeting the various golfers. Bob, Charley Coppola (In the Clubhouse columnist) and I played both days, and picked on each other unmercifully the whole time.

Now I'm at the computer in Sonora's public library, trying to catch up. Perhaps I'll be able to play another course or two while I'm out here. That would be nice, I must say.

As for weather? It was 85 in Mpls the day I left, it snowed in N. Dakota and Montana; was in the 50s in Washington, and today it's about 65. So it varies.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Doubletime at Keller

Not really doubletime. My buddies and I went back to historic Keller in the St. Paul suburb of Maplewood last week. It was a gorgeous day, one of those early autumn wonders. The light always seems to turn into golden honey this time of year, the weather isn't hot, and everything seems to be getting ready for winter.
I was doing well at Keller when we got rained out the beginning of the month. So, with my new Big Bertha, I was hoping for a replay. Needless to say, it didn't happen. I was playing my usual army golf: left, right, left...
Actually, though, I ended up with a 51 on the back, which is pretty good for me. 55 on the front. And since I haven't been out but three times this year, I'm satisfied.
Next week, though, I head for Calif. on the Amtrak. Three days, through the Rockies, to Portland, to Sacto, then by bus to Reno and Carson City to play in Golf Today's tournament.
I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Rattler in your pocket

In 1973 I went to a trade show in Chicago. In a gift shop there I noticed a little keyring timer. It looked like an egg-timer, in that you twisted the dial to the time desired, and it wound a little spring. When the time ran out, it made a buzzing noise. The idea was to set it when you parked your car, then run out to plug the meter when it went off.

Nifty idea, I thought, so I bought it. Back in Minneapolis, I drove downtown one morning and parked at the meter in front of the office building I worked in. I twisted the dial and took the elevator up to the third floor, had my cuppa and started work.

I was talking to the foreman in the back shop when this rattlesnake buzzed at me from inside my pants pocket! I about leaped over the table that separated us, to get away from whatever it was. (Although if the beast was in my pocket, what good would that have done?)

Once I realized what it was, of course, I had no further problem.

Let's segue up to recent days. I've been doing a lot of research on the internet while working at home, and one day I was laying down to take a nap because of my palsy (I need a lot of rest). Suddenly, at 4:00p.m., I heard this weird music for about 15 seconds. I rushed downstairs to see if there was something on my computer, but there was nothing unusual there.

The next day, at noon, I heard it again! What the heck was it? Then again at 4p.m.

Had I picked up something on the internet? I began trying to find "unusual noises at 12 and 4" on Google. No luck. Microsoft's website, no luck. I checked my system for odd viruses: nada. Same result when I ran a spyware checker. Every day at 12 and 4, weird music. It sounded as if it were coming from inside the desktop cabinet, but hitting the volume control on Windows made no difference. It was driving me crazy: I was getting ready to put my plaint on a newsgroup or two to see whether anyone else had such software.

Today I had my Virgin cell phone on the desk instead of in my pants pocket. Suddenly the red light on it lit up--at noon--and it began playing weird music.

I had programmed an alarm into the phone to remind me to put ointment in my eye every four hours, and selected a Technotunes ringtone. Then promptly forgot what I'd done.

Dumb and dumber.


Oh, I've put pix of how Ramsay Hunt affects you in my May 2005 and June 2005 blogs. It ain't purty.

Monday, September 05, 2005

The 1930s Gangster Golf Hideout
Perhaps Keller Golf Course in Maplewood, MN, wasn't a hideout, but it was certainly a place where the hoodlums of the 1930s enjoyed golf. Founded in 1928, the course entertained the likes of John Dillinger (who fled the Feds on the freight that happened to be passing the 3rd green) and Ma Barker and her children.
An elderly man who'd caddied back in the 30s remembered watching the pimps from St. Paul and Minneapolis paying each other off in the locker room after their rounds, $1,000 per hole.
Of course, Keller wasn't all gangsters. Sam Snead played there, and later Arnold Palmer and Ken Venturi, as did Patty Berg.
And the PGA was there as well. In 1932, Olin Dutra pulled one out over Frank Walsh. In 1954, Chick Harbert topped Walter Burkemo for the PGA Championship.
It's a classic old course, with a classic clubhouse. It's been freshly renovated in the last few years, but still has the feel of the hookers and hustlers that spent time there.
If you read about the '30s in St. Paul, you realize how the amnesty they offered crooks led to some high times. The Hamm kidnapping, for instance, was in St. Paul. The agreement, however, was that if you didn't commit a crime in St. Paul, the paid-off police would leave you alone. So, a Minneapolis bank robbery chase ended in the middle of the bridge between the two cities.
Today, of course, the law is the same on both sides of the Mississippi. Only memories remain.
A favorite hole is the par-3 4th, with a huge tree growing right in front of the green. I used an 8-iron to sail over it and land on the green for a par (one of two I got in the first 6 holes, before lightning chased us off the course). We received a rain check, though, so sometime before the end of the season I'll make my way back to see whether that was a fluke.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

On Hold Forever!

After I spent so much time in hospital beds for this Ramsay Hunt syndrome, my lady friend thought I needed some exercise. After all, she felt, perhaps the flow of blood would renovate my facial nerves and I'd get my normal face back. (Well, she liked it.)
At any rate, she talked me into buying the $14.95 fitness program from Beachbody's TV infomercial. It took ten seconds to buy it, and the video arrived, fine. But I missed the fine print that said unless I told them, they were going to send me more stuff. So one Saturday I looked at my checkbook and discovered they'd nicked me for $40+. After telephoning, they told me I'd have to call back after I received the package.
Once again, I'm on hold. It's been 16 minutes so far, I've been disconnected once... The thing is, these mail order companies don't do this accidentally. My friend worked at QVC, and their return policy was to stall, enough that 20% of the people would get so disgusted they'd hang up and never try again. I'm one of the 80% that won't give up: I'll put the phone on speaker and sit here, writing this, while I wait. And now it's 19 minutes and...holding.
After playing at Highland National a couple of weeks ago, I thought I'd try to discover why a course that's been regular Highland for years suddenly feels they are a National course. I haven't been able to find a reason, but have sent a note to my friendly library to ask them. When I learn what caused the upgrade, I'll put it here.
Oh, I did finally get through to Beachbody--after 22 minutes on hold--and it took the woman two minutes to give me a return number. Funny: It's the same number that was printed on the box. If they'd told me where to look on my first call, I wouldn't have wasted time this second time.
I am going to work out to the video, though. It promises to get me a six-pack. Funny, I could have sworn that was part of the problem in the first place.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Big Bertha Rocks
And socks. I finally got back on the course again, after months of trying to recover from this Ramsay Hunt syndrome that locked the left side of my face into paralysis. It was only the second time this year I've been out.

My pals and I went out for some twilight play at the newly refurbished Highland National golf course in St. Paul. They totally changed the look of the elderly course, and eliminated a lot of the standing water that used to swamp players' shoes; in their place are nine ponds that affect play on 10 holes.

We got to play 14 holes before it became too dark, so we failed to see the new Snoopy-shaped sandtrap on 15, in honor of St. Paul's own Charles Schultz (of Peanuts fame). I'm just as glad: since I can't blink my left eye, the thought of getting sand in it terrifies me. As it was, I naturally collected a gnat in the offending orb as I drove the cart, forcing my artist pal to fish it out with a grimy finger.

One of the course's big problems is slow play. Perhaps it's because the patrons are so busy oohing and aahing over the changes. Compounding that, there were no rangers out shepherding people along.

At any rate, I drew the BB456 out of the bag to try on a real course, and I love it. I'm not a good golfer, by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, I often say that if I ever shoot my age, I'll live to 130. But BB was very forgiving, and long. I consistently outdrove my friend, and this was a first for me.

Even with so little practice this year, I never strayed that far off the fairway. I have a real swaying problem, often ending up with my weight on my heels, so a pro suggested I put all my weight on my left foot and just touch the tip of my right foot down. So when I swing, I've got one good eye to keep on the ball and one good leg to stand on. I resemble a heron out frogging.

The course itself was in wonderful shape. The clubhouse hasn't been touched; it has the same aroma it had before all the renovation. There's a new, swanky driving range, with an area for sand work and a huge putting greens. Not to mention the putting green near the first tee.

Overall, it was wonderful to get out again. I'm looking forward to doing it again soon.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

PGA Championship

will air 12 hours of live first- and second-round coverage and five hours of early third- and fourth-round coverage of the PGA Championship this week as Tiger goes for his third Major win this year after the Masters and British Open. He missed winning the U.S. Open by one stroke, as well.


Local LPGA pro Allison Hanna, a non-exempt player on the LPGA tour and a Futures Tour member, fills a spot in the 2005 Safeway Classic originally set aside for the winner of the US Amateur. That event was won by Morgan Pressel, who has already accepted six exemptions into LPGA events this year, the total allowed under tour rules.

Hanna, an Oregon professional, was an All-American at Ohio State University and currently ranks 19th in earnings so far this year on the Futures Tour. The other sponsor's exemption was won in a one day qualifying tournament by Oregon high school golfer Rebecca Kim.

The Safeway Classic will be held in Portland, Oregon August 15-21 at Columbia Edgewater Country Club. For more information, visit


New Titleist Forged 735.CM irons offer continuity in performance and aesthetics with a fluid transition from cavity back long irons to muscle back short irons. Progressive blade heights, blade lengths, offset, topline, center of gravity and moment of inertia allow each club to perform to tour level standards for every shot that is required.

Titleist 735.CM irons are available in two different alloys - forged 410 stainless steel and chrome plated forged 1025 mild carbon steel.


TaylorMade Golf Company introduces the new rac Black TP, a wedge with the same dark finish and teardrop shape as the original rac Black wedge, but which is claimed to incorporate three distinct improvements:

Sharper groove-edges grab the cover of the ball more effectively, and the added groove-width provides more room to channel debris into.

The ground sole configuration, developed on tour, allows players to open the clubface around the green to play high, soft chips and pitches.

Larger Feel Pockets more efficiently channel unwanted impact vibration to strategic locations in the clubhead, promoting improved feel at impact.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Third Tom's the Charm!

Tom Purtzer finally pulled one out. For the last two years, he's led the 3M Championship in the Twin Cities at the end of the third round, then...dropped the ball. Once with not one but two waterballs on the 17th of the TPC of the Twin Cities, the following year with a 74 final round.
This year, once his one-stroke victory over Lonnie Nielsen and Craig Stadler was official, he admitted to a bit of Saturday Night Fever.

Jason Zuback and Bobby Wilson captured the Nokia Champions Challenge at Thanksgiving Point Golf Club in Lehi, Utah. The two are Pinnacle Distance Team members.

Michelle Wie's going to be on with Letterman tonight, Mon., Aug. 8, at at 11:35 p.m. ET, 12:37 a.m. PT on CBS. Isn't that past the 15-year-old's bedtime?

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Tiger's Unfair Advantage

The average kid growing up in the U.S. doesn't get to play golf that often, unless they've got parents with moolah. Even then, it's a pretty costly hobby. (And getting more expensive all the time.)

Tiger's dad, Earl, though, was in the U.S. military. One thing about the military: they enjoy a lot of golf courses, and they get to play at a much lower rate than you and I. There may not be as many courses available now, with all the recent base closings, but for a while they had some premiere ones.

So, Tiger got to play...and play...and play. I'm sure he had the natural skills already, but it certainly didn't hurt to get a lot of time on the course.

Take a look at this article by David Holland to read about some of these military courses. One is listed in its top ten by Golf Digest, for heaven's sake.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Golf in the Midwest

90 degree days may be common in California and the West, but they certainly aren't in Minnesota. Thank goodness! Because all the humidity from 11,000+ lakes gets sucked into the air.
So far this year, we've had almost 20 such scorchers. The rainfall was an inch below normal last month, and now we're heading into "high summer." Things could become a bit parched around here.
I plan to join Bob Koczor, Golf Today's editor/publisher, at the Carson City gettogether in October. I hope to meet some of you there.
Now for some Golf news:

Jim Lucius, The Olympic Club's PGA director of golf, died July 27 at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco. Lucius, 69, is survived by his wife, Judie and their children.


Juli Hilton, a former LPGA tour player, is the newest Total Golf Adventures licensee, having bought the rights to Placer County, Calif. Total Golf Adventures ( of Santa Monica, Calif., has 22 national programs in 18 states. Since its launch in 2004, TGA instructors have taught more than 20,000 children in over 400 K-8 schools.


Total rounds of golf nationally are down 1.1% from last year, according to the National Golf Foundation. Central and south Florida appear to be hardest-hit because of heavy rains in the region, with rounds down 12% in June.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

All the News that Fits

As webmaster at, I receive a lot of press releases. So I thought this might be a good place to start listing some of the ones that don't make it into the magazine. Or to list them again. Let me know whether you like this information.



Don't forget the Golf Today Magazine tournament in Carson City, Nevada, beginning Oct. 7.


Central Coast Invitational, October 11-15th, Cypress Ridge golf course in Arroyo Grande, Calif. A pro-am tournament format.

A Peter Jacobsen/Jim Hardy signature design 18 hole golf course will play host to a newly created event modeled after the Pebble Beach pro-am.

Professionals play 72 holes, 'no cut', for prize money and amateurs play the first two rounds to qualify for the central coast invitational trophy tournament during round three on Friday October 14, 2005. The top 20 teams qualify.

Tournament information at


Author Dr. Bee Epstein-Shepherd has written "Building Champions: A Guide for Parents of Junior Golfers" (Becoming Press, 2005) that is being released this week.


Tour Golf Products, Inc., Columbus OH, continues its weekly newsletters directed toward customers, clubmakers and golfers around the world. Each features a section related to a specific Tour Golf product and a weekly sale section with substantial discounts on current products. Plus a weekly technical information section written by Jeff Jackson. The newsletters are archived at

Power Performance Rankings rate the performance of Champions Tour players over the last 12 months. A player can move up by dropping a bad finish from 2004 and/or move up by having a good finish in 2005. Tom Watson moved up from 8th to 2nd position in the Rankings after his victory at the Senior British Open. Jay Haas moved ahead on pointsand retook the #1 slot as many others lost ground.

Peter Jacobsen dropped to 3rd, and Craig Stadler climbed from 7th to 4th with his British Open performance.

Biggest moves: Andy Bean, down from 24th to 36th; Jim Ahern up from 46th to 39th; David Eger up from 21st to 15th; Bob Gilder up from 37th to 32nd.

For more information on the Power Performance Rankings, contact Kathy Bissell. Email or call 904-273-8078. This system is not compiled by the PGA Tour.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

The Blind Hypnotist

"Do you see this heavy gold watch?"
"Yes, I do, doctor."
"Then I want you to look into it while I let it swing back and...ouch."

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Bertha Rules

Unlimbering her 454cc is rather like having a watermelon on a stick. That's a big head. But she's a lightweight overall, with her titanium shaft.
I definitely felt a difference between her and the WarHawk I used before on the driving range, and so does the friend that repossessed it from me. Now he's suffering Driverlust because I'm using this one. He's a long, straight hitter, and admitted the 454 seemed to add from 10 to 20 yards.
For me, it just means a bigger banana ball. When I do uncork a good drive, though, it reaches out there much more.
Overall, I think my pals are envious of it. Lucky me. Now I've got a good club, I've got to find a way to get onto a course, and not just a range.
My eye is the thing that gives me problems. Because I can't blink, every four hours I have to smear ointment onto it, to keep it from drying out. When it's a windy day, I put a patch on to keep grit out of it.
As for walking a course, I think I could if it's flat. (And in Minnesota they're almost all flat.) Of course, I could rent a cart. Maybe I'll do that later this week.
If I do get out, it'll be the first time since April. Oh, Joy.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Calloo, Callaway

All hail Big Bertha

The blowsy blonde with the 454 measurements.

Boom boom Bertha.

She hits it here, it falls to earth there.

(I would say "we know not where", but I don't want to
jinx her.)

She has only straight drives in her. I will have to
teach her kinky ways. Not purposefully, but through
maximum ineptitude.

So far, I have only unwrapped her from her jewel case and tenderly
stripped the shiny plastic from her. She resides in my bag,
waiting for her debut.

This is reputed to be the longest driver on the market.
It's like combining the many e-mail lotteries I'm told I've won
with Nigerian dead letter offices (10% of millions can be mine
if I'll only give them my bank account info) to the endless penis

Unfortunately, like all the others above, the long drive claim is
subject to human intervention. And with me as the human involved,
the claims may not pan out.

Even so, I'm excited about this driver in her titanium dress. We'll see what
happens when the fat lady sings.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Lives of Noisy Desperation

Thoreau would be heartbroken at the idea of blogging.

His whole philosophy was simplicity. The first conscientious objector, he went to jail rather than pay taxes he felt supported an unjust war. (In his case, the Mexican-American one, waged by the United States to take over Texas and the Southwest...and perhaps also extend the area of slavery.)

He built the cabin at Walden with his own hands. Although he only published two books before dying of tuberculosis at the age of 44, he kept journals that have been published in 20 volumes.

His conscience was his guide.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

INC = Incompetent

In Minnesota politics, after the state government ground to a halt while R's tried to stall so the D's would look bad, and D's walked out at the last minute to play hardball, they're all losers.
At least, that's the feeling from most citizens of the state. On television, one voter said, "If they have an INC after their name on the ballot, I won't vote for them."
This may be the first election in years where being the incumbent works against you. Minnesotans are angry, and it just remains to see whether they'll be unforgiving.
Our governor had promised the Indian tribes that are heavily into gaming that he wouldn't tax them. Then, in the age-old tactic of "Divide and Conquer", he tried to enlist the impoverished tribes in the state's Northern, less-populated regions, to come together to make a racetrack near Minneapolis over into a taxpaying "Racino."
Gambling is growing so fast it's replacing Social Security as the way to ensure a comfortable future after 65. Oh, I'm sorry: that's the stock market, isn't it?
It's lucky the state legislature decided to get back to work. Those 9,000 folks sitting, twiddling their thumbs, were about to gain the advantage of a contract that said, after two weeks of shutdown, they would get a check for all their stored vacation and sick leave.
That would have run into tens of millions of dollars, and have made the taxpayers even more irate.
As it is: Throw the rascals out.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Forehead Lines

This palsy acts as a sort of "poor man's botox", in that it erases all the age and care lines (read "wrinkles") on the paralyzed side of my face.

So when I'm told that I'm beginning to get a wrinkle or two, I'm actually thrilled. That may mean I'm getting a little bit of the use of my nerves, see? And that could lead to being able to wink and blink and, I can still nod. It's the winkin' and blinkin' that I can't do.

It keeps swelling up at times, and now I've started losing my balance when I tilt my head back and then up. The doctor who did the craniotomy says that's normal, though, so I guess I'll keep on going.

The 4th of July was uneventful. I worked on a writing project, but I did get to see Chubby Checker one night, and the Lettermen another day. Chubby puts on a high-energy show, and really got the people involved. The Lettermen tried, I guess, but they would only sing bits of their songs. There's only one of the three originals anyway, so perhaps the old guy couldn't hit those high notes that were so easy in the '60s. I'd say their Letter was a C.

The Lettermen's act was more a revue in the Las Vegas sense. Show tunes, impersonations, and the like. It was a beautiful day at Taste of Minnesota, though, and it was good to get out and get fresh air.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Golf Lab's Free E-Mail Newsletter

As keeper of the flame for I get regular reports on the popularity of our writers and the articles we publish. Near the top almost every month is Leith Anderson's look at equipment, Equipment Chronicles.

He explores the ways to fine tune what you're already using, to squeeze out that last bit of control, to push the ball out that much farther. If you want to get shafted, Leigh's the guy to do it. (He's always examining the various shaft/head combinations in depth.)

Now he's introducing a new idea, a free e-mail newsletter for members. The first issue has an invitation to come out and play 9 holes with Leith at Palo Alto (Calif.) Muni, free stuff, and much more.

Contact Information
phone: (650) 493-1770

I wish the Bay Area weren't so far away from where I am at present, or I'd take him up on it. The bad thing about this eye is, I can't drive for far without becoming exhausted. Perhaps it's trying to clear up the double vision, but I get tired easily.

So the thought of driving 2,000 miles is insurmountable. Soon, though. Real soon now. (I hope.)

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The Case of the Disappearing Money

After all that's happened to me lately? This is the icing on the cake.

I needed to send off a payment for auto insurance, so to make sure I had the funds, I took out a Visa loan from my Minnesota credit union for $500, kept $20, and put the remaining cash into my credit union's ATM to send to my Calif. credit union. (There are laws about their accepting money inside unless they're affiliated, I guess.)$480, right?

They are now claiming they only got $280. I've been raising cain, but they just give me this runaround. The one here that got the envelope says they have two teller's signatures, and there was only $280. So I wonder where it went?

Could I have not sealed the envelope? I remember licking the envelope. Could the teller that gave me the cash pulled a short-change on me? I remember fanning out the bills to be sure.

So, it appears as if I'll be changing credit unions shortly. After all, I don't need a California one if I'm working in Minnesota.

But, boy am I mad.

The moral of the story is, don't put cash into an ATM. My credit union here will give me a free cashier's check every day, and that's what I'm depositing from now on.

Ah, well, life's too important to be taken seriously.

7_19_05 The credit union has searched high and low, looked at tapes, etc., and decided that rather than waste any more time on it, they'll return the $200. After all, I've been a customer of theirs for more than 30 years, and never had a problem, so....

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Home on the Range!

After an eye scare Friday, and clarification Saturday, I hit the driving range for the first time since my Ramsay Hunt attack in late April.

Friday I was driving home near the VA hospital, and my eye started feeling very scratchy. My left eye started to water, so my right eye began to as well. (They're in the same union.)

"Don't be Mr. Macho," I had been admonished. "If it hurts, go see the doctors during the week, while they're open."

Of course, I had waited too long: the eye clinic closed at noon. So I hied to the Urgent Care room, and sat for three hours. The M.D. on call--who had been one of the people who saw me in the ward when I was there--remembered me. "Oh, you had such a bad case of Ramsay Hunt," she said in her lilting Indian accent.

"I was Exhibit A in a lot of white-coated Show and Tell, that's for sure," I said.

Her diagnosis was, something bad was going on in my eye, but come in the next morning to see the eye doctor.

Next morning the eye doctor took a gander. "Not much wrong," she said, contradicting the Urgent Care doctor. She proceeded to rout out my eyelids with a cotton swab to get built-up mucus and grit out, turning them a bright red.

"Don't wear the patch too much," she admonished, "because it breeds bacteria."

"What about the Speedo swim goggles I've been using?"

"Same problem," she responded. "If you want to wash your eyelids to get rid of summer sweat and dust, use a q-tip with baby shampoo." Of course, no tears. Why hadn't I thought of that? For that matter, why hadn't they told me earlier? (The leftover soap also cleaned the oil off my nose, making the Breath-Rite stick all night.)

I drove home, much relieved.

On to Golf

So, when my pal telephoned and asked if I wanted to go to the driving range, I leaped at the chance.

It felt good to be out in the warm afternoon air, splitting a bucket.

I only took three clubs, and I sincerely tried to slow everything down. I have a tendency to sway a lot, so one pro suggested I stand with all my weight on my left foot, and just my right toe on the ground.

One-eyed, one-legged...there was a song about that, wasn't there?

Actually, I made pretty good contact much of the time. My shots weren't straight, but they were out there a ways. And when I remembered to tuck my right elbow in...I hit what I was aiming at. At least that time.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Bye Bye, Bertha

My playing pal is a club freak. He makes good money, and he just loves to buy golf clubs. I, on the other hand, am a tightwad, sort of a golfer's Jack Benny. I found an old persimmon 4-wood on the course one day, and no one claimed it. I've used it ever since. My first set of clubs stayed with me 20 years.

Well, a couple of years ago, he decided he wanted to try a few different drivers, so he loaned me his Big Bertha War Bird. This driver design was from the starvation victim period. You remember, enormous head, skinny shanks, like a turqoise balloon on a stick.

Longer drives, larger sweet spot: Its promises were a blend of cheap Viagra and an African con artist offering 10% of ill-gotten gains if you'll only give them your bank account number. By the way, you've just won a lottery you never entered.

It sounded like an Little League bat when it connected, with a sort of tinny 'tink'.

Drives off it rose high and far, though. They did so much more often than my old driver, so I guess it did have a larger sweet spot. I grew very fond of that piece of metal, despite its odd color.

Alas, however, my friend has decided to reclaim his lost lamb. I'm going to have to (gasp) buy a driver. There's no rush: I haven't hit a ball since April. You know something, though? The itch is beginning to pick up. I better hurry. In Minnesota, summer is an awful short season.

Does anyone know of one with a sweet spot that wraps completely around the face. And forgiving? I want one that makes St. Francis Assisi look like a drill sergeant.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

A Tabasco Marriage

B.S. (Before Salsa), Americans used to say "If a couple buys a second bottle of Tabasco Sauce, the marriage will last."

That was when Americans liked their food sort of bland, meat and potatoes, short, flat.

Since I've had Bell's Palsy, I like my food flat, too. Oh, not for the same reason: I can't open my mouth more than about 3/4".

I still have the appetite; I just don't have the aperture.

So I specialize in either soft foods, or flat ones, or ones that can be made flat. Spaghetti, Oriental noodles (noodles cut into short lengths to avoid whiplash), rice dishes, mashed potatoes, and the like.

Flat foods include tortillas, fish sticks, cole slaw, sausage, taco chips (although I have to break round ones in half to avoid sawing my mouth, pizza, and so on.

I bought a Whopper the other day. By the time I was done with it, it was a Whimper, a manhole cover of its former self.

The left side of my face is paralyzed, so I've become the king of drool. I remember reading about a musical conductor who carried a little silver box of chili peppers to accessorize his food. My recent accessorization consists of straws and extra napkins.

A bundle of napkins used to last me almost as long as that couple kept their Tabasco. Not any more. I'm on the Kimberly-Clark Preferred Customer list.

What the heck. Maybe instead of having your stomach stapled, a person could just sew half their mouth shut. One eats a lot slower, so when everybody else is ready to go, you're only half done.

As a result, my refrigerator is becoming a historical archive of white takeout boxes. Aren't those why the Chinese invented paper in the first place? Writing? The first words a Chinese sage ever wrote was "Leftover egg foo yung."

Oh, has its July website up, if you didn't come here from there.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

The Mild Bunch

"Sherf, sherf, they's a gang that's just wheeled into town. They've taken over the old Haynes buildin'!"

"Now, calm down, Charley. Whatta they look like?"

"The women is all in these pink pantsuits, sherff, and their hair

"And whatta the men look like, Charley?"

"Well, sherf, they's all got them Sansabelt slacks, them as ain't wearin' Bermuda shorts. I tell you, sherf, the sight of all them varicose veins...."

"Have a sip of water, Charley. What were they ridin'?"

"A few of them was on those little three-wheeled electric carts, sherf. Most of 'em was in those big chromed wheel chairs."

"I guess we're gonna have to call in the National Guard, Charley. That there's the Mild Bunch."


Many of us own houses. As we get older, the nest gets emptier (although with the economy the way it is, the nest may become refilled pretty quickly). Yard work, repairs, property taxes, etc., start to grate on us.

So we start thinking about cashing in our big nest and downsizing, getting something smaller. (Hey, maybe that'll discourage the kids from moving back in.) If we buy another house in a town that has amenities (restaurants, theaters, galleries and museums, etc.), that will take a chunk out of what we gained by selling our big house.

Condos? Do you want to pay $150 and up every month for association fees--and often not be able to control them.

Mobile homes are fun, what with low upkeep (at least in arid climates), but you don't get that much for your money, and every month you pay space rent.

Maybe what we need to do is band together with like-minded folks and find an inexpensive apartment building in a smaller town--and buy it. Hire a manager/handyman, chip in a little extra every month for upkeep and taxes, and cooperate with each other.

I think I'll look up Cooperative living on Google.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Hail-sized golf balls

I wonder if weather forecasters put little labels on their radar screens every time they intone "golf ball-sized hail". The way fighter pilots put the other guys's flags next to the cockpit when they shoot one down.

They never rave about "ping-pong ball-sized hail" or "marble-sized". It's the weatherman's way of being macho enough to stand up to the sports desk. (Doppler radar just doesn't cut it.)

My first year in Minnesota, I golfed at Phalen Muni in St. Paul, a very nice 18-hole track near Lake Phalen (home in colder climes to the Ice Castle). I had moved from California the winter before, and had no experience of heavy weather, Minnesota-style. Cal, after all, only offers fog, rain, sunny, and sweltering. Oh, and an earthquake once in awhile, but the weathermen really can't take credit for those, despite their solemn claim that "heavy rains make the faults slide easier".

Minnesota, on the other hand, has four seasons. Four seasons with complete weather patterns of their own (although three of them sometimes feel like winter).

Back to Phalen: I was using borrowed clubs, had long hair and was wearing bellbottoms (which should tell you how long ago that was. At the time, despite the WWII movies showing gallant Brits and Aussies wearing shorts in Africa while they battled the evil Nazis, I sneered at shorts. At least, until the bellbottoms began binding.)

Sunshine streamed down; then the sky darkened, sirens started whooping, and what to my wondering eye should appear, but golf ball-sized hail bouncing right Ouch.

From under a well-leafed tree, I watched as they piled up in drifts, too, clumps of them in every dip and shallow. The traps were thick with them. They made putting very difficult. And a half-hour after the sun returned in all its blazing glory...they were just a weathercaster's memory.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Identity Theft Welcome Here

Here I am, 62 years old, balding, a scar outlining an escape hatch on the side of my head that covers four titanium screws in the side of my head (if titanium were steel, I'd sport refrigerator magnets), 1.5 eyes and a pirate's patch, a good eye that waters in sympathy whenever the bad one wails (which makes driving at night great fun), out of work since the end of April, weak from operations, enforced bedrest and thus lack of exercise, debts piling up... Heck, if someone wants that identity, they're welcome to it.

Especially if that means I'd get a younger, stronger body, a fresh dose of testosterone (not too much, please), good health, and a second chance. I'll keep the sense of humor, the things I've learned over the years, the friends and family, a few other pertinent elements.

So it's "all systems go" on their taking over my identity. Now, access to my assets? That's another story. They can kiss my assets goodbye: I'll keep them. Not that there's much, but at least they're things I've earned.

Now, my golfing identity is another thing entirely. I enjoy getting out and wandering around on the course, schmoozing with my buddies. My game is not very good.

I am determined to someday shoot my age, because that absolutely guarantees I'll live to 130.

Gee. Maybe I'll keep this identity after all.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Avast, Matey!

I won't give up without a fright.

I've been driving around town with my black patch over one eye, so piratical-looking that in all justice I should have a Cutlass. (Maybe a 1964 convertible, with a 442hp engine? Now that's piratical. And not very fuel-efficient, either.)

I subscribe to a travelwriter's group, and responded to a post where someone had a ton of notes from the Far East, and wanted to know about writing a book.

A reply mentioned an Englishman who traveled around Ireland with a refrigerator. I couldn't help but respond:

Now, don't knock Traveling Across Ireland with a Frig (I'm not sure it's the real name, but I found it at the library). It was well-written. It was based on a gimmick, sure, but that's always been true in travel writing.

For example, how about Thor Heyerdahl, trying to cross the oceans on rafts, or papyrus boats? Or Richard Halliburton, the travel writer who swam the pool in the Taj Mahal and died trying to sail across the Pacific in a junk

It's like photography. At first it was novel, so photographers took views of what was there--the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, etc. As more and more cameras became available, the focus (pardon the expression) changed to people. Cartier-Bresson, for example, famous kissing couples, etc. Then photographers began looking for something different: extreme closeups, radical images, etc.

I've written freelance for many years, and you always need an angle that's different. I write golf travel, for instance, and it's hard to find something, once you get past the "green grass, blue skies".

That was the end of it.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Hokey Pokey Man

I've seen several announcements of the sad death of Larry La Prise. Actually, having lived to 93 (and died on April 4th, 1996, not, as many recent posts and blogs would have you believe, this year), maybe he was ready to dance to a different drummer.

At any rate, the most traumatic part for his family was placing him into the coffin..... they put his left leg in...and that's when the trouble started.

I don't know how many dances I've been to where they've played the Hokey Pokey. Weddings, children's birthday parties, graduation shindigs...that's a perennial favorite.

It turns out, however, that the Hokey Pokey was featured in a number of legal battles, and if you look at Mr. La Prise's biography: it may trace back to a Shaker dance called the Hinkum-Booby.

By the way, that seems to be his only song. It appears he worked for the post office in Idaho for most of his life.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

King Tut Tut Exonerated

OK, not exonerated, simply found not guilty in this case. 2,500 reporters covering a Made for Media event. Shakespeare said it best (as always)"Much Ado About Nothing." Tabloids of the Air. And not just Fox.

I was looking forward to seeing the first King Tut on the Today show, but the fawning got to me. I'm glad I only have one eye; watching big black gas-guzzling SUVs drive back and forth gets boring after 10 seconds. Watching big white-haired gas-spewing lawyers bleat back and forth gets boring after 1.

We're not the only country that gets caught up in trivia, either. The Arab TV station El Jazeera (sp?) even broke into a program with the report from Santa Maria, Calif., site of the trial. They said Saddaam Hussein wanted his trial moved there.

I was complaining to a friend about how my eye doesn't blink, and we talked about the weights you can attach to your eyelid to draw it closed. He said "You'd better watch out, though. That eyelid will have all kinds of muscle."

I responded, "Oh, great. All I need is iceps."

Monday, June 13, 2005

I See Stars!

Driving home after visiting friends last night, I realized another problem with having one eye that's on the fritz: every head- and streetlight glared. They had lines out from them the way a camera lens does when it's been scored to make stars. That is, there were four different lines at 90 degrees that radiated out from the center. It made it very hard to see.

As a result, I had to drive with my hand in front of my left eye. That stopped the star effect.

The effect is probably caused by the ointment I have to put in every four hours. It makes everything appear soft-focused, like smearing Vaseline on a camera lens. So perhaps that's the cause of the star search.

On my way to my friends' I stopped at Walgreen's and bought some Breathe Right (30 for $14.00. Ouch.), some Bausch & Lomb eyedrops, and some Strydex pads. I asked for astringent pads, to clean the oil off my nose so the Breathe Rights would stay on. Of course, the salesgirls gave me a bottle that didn't work. There went 50 cents down the drain, because the left side stuck and the right side didn't, so I had to throw the bandage away. Phooey.

It was a lovely evening, though, congenial company, a great dinner, and I enjoyed my first touch of the grape in more than a month. Omar Khayyam, he was a friend of mine.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Getting Closer to Normal

I am driving my CRV again. Gingerly, but it's a step in the right direction.

Because of the situation with my left eye, I'm extremely careful. If you're in a rush and get behind me, expect to go the speed limit (frustrating, I know). Take your anti-roadrage pills before getting out there.

But it's wonderful to be free to move about the streets. Walking just doesn't have the same panache.

When I went out for coffee with friends a few days back, I asked the waitress for a straw. Because the drool factor kicks in on the left side of my mouth, a straw makes the act of transferring liquids from cup to lip less likely to slip. Coffee, tea, and a straw...even chicken soup is easier to handle. In my case, it's "Many a sip slips 'twixt the cup and the lip."

The waitress admitted my use of the straw was the first time she'd ever seen it. It makes the act of sippin' a lot easier and a little cleaner, though, so I'll keep right on.

The Breath-Rite strip to open the sinus passage was a first for my doctor, too. The medical community is great at the mechanical repair work, but they don't say much about how a person can deal with the problems of an affliction. I learned more from than I did from the hospital.

Even so, I'm having a huge problem finding a way to protect my left eye and still be able to see. While I was driving the van in the hot weather, I became concerned about keeping the eye moist. I put drops in my eye, but I don't have a way to keep the liquid from evaporating. One doctor gave me a clear plastic cover with foam rubber under it to trap the moisture in the eye--sort of a see-through patch--but it's too small for my eye.

I saw a couple of clear alternatives at the website mentioned above, and stopped in at an optician's to see whether they had anything like that, but no luck. They informed me only an opthalmologist carries such an item, and they didn't have anything like that at the VA. Bummer.

However, a friend stopped over today and commented my left eye is closing better, and my face appears to be beginning to straighten out. I certainly hope she's right.

Friday, June 10, 2005

No Nose is Good Nose

One of the things that happens with Bell's Palsy or Ramsay Hunt is the lack of control over facial muscles. To look at me, it's as if there was a landslide right under my nose. The little line above my upper lip starts the collapse, and it continues down to my chin. This, of course, is caused by the muscles on the left being on vacation.

That results in the sinuses on the left being pulled to the right, so you don't breathe as well through that side. Here's a tip: Use a Breathe-Rite strip on your nose. You've seen them on football players and other athletes. They're a springy material that gives your nose an uplifting experience.

You have to be careful of them, though. Don't peel them off too fast!

When I began trying to use them, I used alcohol to wash the oils off my nose, then soap and water. That was so the adhesive would stick. It didn't work at first: always the right side would pop up. Maybe the right is oilier than the left, eh, George?

Finally I began washing it twice, which worked until the next morning. Yesterday I bought some alcohol, last night used it first twice, then washed with soap and water. As of this morning, it still is holding.

To return to the warning above: If you peel them off too fast, you can take a hunk of skin off with the adhesive. So be careful removing them.

I went grocery shopping yesterday for an hour, and started getting a
little shaky toward the end.

Later, I drove my big old van by myself, only about 6 miles, but it
was in rush hour traffic in 80+ degree weather, and got home safely.
No crushed pedestrians or other autos, and the normal level of anger
and frustration. Ah, the glories of living in the big city. Oh, and
the weather helped me realize that, yes, there is a difference between
saline solution and sweat: Saline doesn't sting!

My left eye is the problem. I keep a patch on it a lot of the time,
because it's out of focus, which makes it hard to read, type, etc.
Plus it is at a constant low level of irritation, or seems to be.

Otherwise, I keep plugging.

My smile is just more lopsided than it was.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

In Your Eye

I went for a walk yesterday, in the 85+ degree weather, then loaded my 6.5 hp lawnmower in my van so my girlfriend could use it. (I didn't know the battery was drained, and she wouldn't be able to get the vehicle started. There's a slow leak somewhere that draws off current.)

That was quite a job, especially with a patch. I didn't realize how heavy a big mower like that was when I bought it, but I've learned over the years. I had to put down a plank, and run it up on the left-hand set of wheels.

Then I started sweating under the patch--and over it--so started getting perspiration in my bad eye. Ouch. As a result, when I put drops in every couple of hours, they must pick up some of the sweat, because that first drop always stings.

Oh, any of my friends who have my old Verizon cel number: I closed that out. It just cost too much, at $50 a month or so. Plus the service was lousy, but I was told that's my fault: I hadn't upgraded the software since I got the phone. As a result, the phone didn't have the cel towers that have been constructed since then. So that's why I'd lose calls.

So, now I have a new number, a Minnesota number this time, rather than Calif. I went with Virgin, which requires you keep at $20 every 3 months, but it adds to whatever you've got left. Why pay contract fees if you don't use it that much?

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Keep Your Eye on the Ball

At least, having only one fully serviceable eye should make that a lot easier. Of course, not being able to see very well past about 40 feet might make it a little difficult to watch where it's going. No matter: I don't usually hit it very far anyway.

It broke my heart to have this happen in late April. If I'm going to get discommoded, why couldn't it happen in January or February, months that aren't normally conducive to golf in these climes? As it was, I had to turn down two invitations to splendid courses, one the Governor's Open at Madden's Resort in Brainerd, another at the new Giant's Ridge course in Biwabik.

When Jesse Ventura was "The Gov", he referred to the golfing season's introductory media day as "The Jackal Open." There isn't much doubt what he thought about the press. Governor Pawlenty is a little more reserved. He might consider them much the same animal, but keeps his faunic opinions private. Although now that a Minneapolis magazine has splashed his image (computer assisted, of course) wearing only the Presidential seal in a strategic location, he 's liable to start voicing an opinion.

As for me, one of these days I'll get one of my friends to take me over to the driving range to see whether this ailment helps or hinders my golf game.

After all, if I ever shoot my age, I figure that means I'll live to 130.

Monday, June 06, 2005

A Pole Too Far

The Edina, MN, Art Fair seemed like a good venue to walk around and gain stamina, so away we went yesterday. I wore a patch on my left eye, because the wind was blowing dust around and I'm paranoid about getting any grit in that one. It was all right: a lot of the art only deserved one eye, anyway.

I staggered a bit after about an hour, but a minute's rest and I was up and at 'em again. We hung out there for some three hours, and while my friends walked on to look at one last set of booths I leaned against a pole and waited. That was a good idea, but when a lot of people with dogs began walking by I decided to step away from the pole.

When I talked to my mother last night, she said I sounded a lot better. It's funny: when I lean to the left (the paralyzed side), I slur a lot. When I sit up straight or lean to the right, I sound good. I haven't noticed any change in the Bell's Palsy, in terms of getting my face back, but I feel much better.

By the way: The terrible thing about this symptom is that, politically, I usually lean to the left. This particular symptom means I'm going to catch it from my more-conservative friends (Yes, I do have a couple). What can I say? Maybe the Democratic party needs to take lessons from Bells Palsy sufferers on how to enunciate clearly--out of both sides of their mouth.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Eye Problems

Last night it felt as if there were something in the left eye, making it difficult to sleep. This morning the feeling continues. I've been going around without the black Walgreen's eyepatch during the day, only putting it on to sleep, so I suppose I might have gotten something in it.

I've washed it out a couple of times, put drops in and ointment. It seems as if the ointment gets a little thick, so I wonder if that might be part of the problem. I scraped a glob of the ointment off where the lids are stuck together (I use a piece of t.p. folded into an arrowhead, then get that wet so I don't scratch the cornea.) Apparently the ointment is used to keep moisture on the eye for a longer period of time than the drops. I've been waking up every two hours, though, and put drops in almost by habit.

I found an interesting site about one man's recovery from Bell's Palsy at's%20Palsy. He does almost a day-by-day update of how it hit him. Another active person (he was 48) who got blindsided by this condition. However, I have Ramsay Hunt, which is a more virulent version.

Another diary of how it affects you is at

Friends last night said I sounded better. No longer am I the king of drool. I have been looking at my smile every morning to see whether there are any more teeth showing than there were yesterday. This flesh curtain only parts to allow the right side of my teeth to show. I'm hoping there will be more teeth unveiled as time goes by.

So, things continue apace.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

The Eyelid Stitches are Out

Yesterday, first thing in the morning, I went to the VA to have the stitches taken out of my left eyelid. I thought the procedure would be to glue my eyelid shut. I was wrong.

Apparently when they were sewing on me, they also scraped part of the eyelids. Holding them together with the stitches allowed them to heal together. As a result, only two/thirds of my eye is visible. When (If?) the nerves on that side of my face come back to normal, they will separate the eyelids with a !scalpel! Yikes.

At least now I can scratch the itches. I certainly couldn't do that when there was foam rubber keeping the stitches from pulling through the eyelid. I looked as if I had tiny marshmallows on the outside of the lid. I still don't look particularly attractive, but at least I can see better.

I still must put drops in that eye every couple of hours, but the doctor did say I could drive. That's a plus. Normality, here I come. Eventually.

I've been looking for writing jobs on the internet. Whether an employer will hire someone my age with a somewhat disfigured eye is another question.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Better Living Through Chemistry

I came out of the hospital, and one of the pills the doctors gave me to use if I needed it was Oxycontin. I didn't realize that was highly desirable as a narcotic--a recent TV news report said they sold for $26 a pill on the street (as of Nov., 2005, they were selling for $80, with the next step up being heroin)--but didn't want to take anything other than Tylenol/acetominophen.

When I went into the doctor's Monday, he asked if I'd been having any pain. I told him, "Not much. I take a Tylenol when I have some. In fact, I haven't even taken any of those Oxymorons you gave me."

He told me I should get some earwax remover to get my left ear canal open. My last run-in with that stuff left me in pain: the bottle was the same size and shape as the eyedrops I'd been given. Within minutes of returning from the hospital after my operation, I had grabbed that bottle and dropped some in my eye!

Sting? Boy, I'll say. I washed it out thoroughly, and my girlfriend raced me to the VA urgent care, where they washed it out some more. The doctor there assured me it hadn't done any permanent damage, and regaled me with a story about a woman who had put her fingernail glue in her eye. At least I didn't feel totally stupid...only mostly.

So be very careful when doing anything with your eyes. Paint the bottles different colors, if they are the same shape. You don't need permanent problems because of a mistake.

As for the blisters on my head, my girlfriend suggested I wipe them with essence of lavender. Just the essential oil. I did so, and the blisters appear to have disappeared. Wonderful stuff.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Some good news.

At least there's some good news today: I got back the hearing in my left ear. It's not perfect, but any note in a storm.

That's balanced by what appears to be small blisters on my head, and into my left ear. Might it be the reoccurrence of shingles? Lord, I hope not. Now I've got to make an appt. at the VA to see what it is. Bummer.

The final bill from the hospital--which the VA is working with me on--came to over $25K. That's for an operation, and three days in the hospital. Monday I did nothing but wait until it was time for the operation, Mon. night in the ICU, Tues. in the ward, and out Wed. It was almost $7K for the first day...and that didn't include the operation! Woof. Healthcare is out of sight.

Stay well. Stay fit. Stay lean. The doctor at the VA told me I was in better shape than a lot of 40 and 50 year olds, which may be one reason I healed so fast.

I just hope my nerve heals fast also.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

A Day After the Bad News.

A year, the doctor said yesterday, before I "might" get back full functionality from my facial nerves.

Today, he explained that nerves grow back at a rate of 1mm a day, and that I'd lost 80-100mm. To me, that means 2.5-3 months for regeneration. So perhaps a year is very conservative; I mean, I was teasing the nurses in the recovery room at the hospital within 15 minutes of coming out of the operating room. While I was in ICU, I didn't use morphine. And once I was in the wards, I only asked for acetominophen. Plus, they said most people were in the hospital 5-7 days, whereas I left the third day. My hope, of course, is that I'll heal as quickly.

I asked the doctor about various vitamins and minerals that could affect nerve growth. These included Citicoline, Retinoic Acid, and Nerve Growth Factor. The Bell's Palsy website suggested that B1, B6 and B12 were helpful, so I've been tailoring my diet toward those. Lots of fruits and vegetables, eggs, cheese, beans, etc. I don't know whether a diet supplement would help or not.

The doctor responded that he felt prayer was a better alternative than any vitamins or minerals. Of course, doctors don't usually pay a lot of attention to such things.

One website I have read suggested using heat on the affected nerves, to help them heal faster.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

This Treacher Body.

I woke up one morning in late April, and the left side of my face had developed a weird little quirk: it didn't quirk. It had gone numb. I couldn't blink. All the lines had disappeared from that side of my face (sort of a poor man's Botox), and my upper lip seemed to drift off to the right (since the muscles on the left had gone numb).

Smiling after the palsy.

(May, 2008. Three years later. My face has recovered somewhat, but my smile is still crooked.)

My left hand was alright, and I could walk normally, so I knew it wasn't a stroke. In fact, I had suffered something called Bell's Palsy (, an attack on my number 7 facial nerve by a virus--possibly chickenpox from when I was a kid, or perhaps herpes.

I'm 62, 6'3", and 205 pounds (when this started). I've always been blessed with splendid health, playing both volleyball and golf, walking, biking, etc. In fact, the last time I spent any time in a hospital was when I was 18 and in the Navy, and both times it was because of falls while roller skating. (Two front wheels rolled past me, and I wondered "What poor bastard..." at which point my toestop hit the floor and as I stretched out toward the hardwood I realized who the aforementioned poor bastard was.)

After a visit to Urgent Care at the VA hospital in Minneapolis, I was put on antibiotics. When I visited my primary care provider the next Tuesday, they immediately shipped me up to the fifth floor ward and put me on IVs. This was followed by an MRI, audiology, and the works.

Friday they let me out of the VA, with orders to return to a local hospital on Monday for a possible operation on my head. Monday I was put in the hospital and was operated on at 6:30p.m. It was quite the operation: they cut a 3.25" square in my head, lifted my brain, then drilled the nerve channel a little larger, and put Humpty together again. By 10 I was in recovery, spent the night in Intensive Care, and two more days in that hospital.

Here it is, two weeks after the operation. I have since had my left eye sewn mostly shut, to protect the cornea (after all, the eye doesn't blink). Next week I may get it glued shut, and the stitches removed. I wear a black patch, and look like a Pirate of the Caribbean (and because of the eye I can't drive).

My visit to the surgeon today resulted in learning it might take me up to a year to recover fully, if then. My hearing is off, possibly because of blood in the ear canal, as is my balance.

I've got invitations to two golf-related events I won't be able to get to now, but worse than that, I don't know how I can work. That will require negotiating the shoals of disability, unemployment insurance, perhaps early retirement.

So, this is the start of my odyssey. My body, reliable for so many years, let me down a little bit. My RVgolfing days appear to be taking a rest, as well.