A Victim of Internet Memes: 25 Random Things

Recently I’ve been tagged with one of those get-to-know-you gags online. The rules read as follows:

“Once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you.”

Tag. I’m it. I got stuck with a smaller version of this when I got a mild cold during a snowstorm. I got the 25-random-things version while recovering a nasty cold. If I wait for a bigger list, I fully expect to be struck down with an Ebola virus.

But I’m not tagging anybody. I might be a wuss, but I’m not a rat.

Here I go. I suggest you start running now.

  1. I never learned how to drive. Car insurance in California was too expensive. And my wife always has the car (bah-dump-bump CHING.)
  2. I once shattered a malfunctioning typewriter out of sheer frustration. It was a cheap, creaking piece of crap anyway.
  3. Halloween is my favorite holiday because it feels more positive than all the others so far.
  4. I know how to make a few dishes (chicken in marsala seems the most popular, but I don’t think I’m much of a cook.
  5. I once had a black cat called Lilith. I still miss her.
  6. My father was a US Marine at the Battle of Iwo Jima.
  7. I still dream of writing and directing feature films.
  8. I have nervous tremors in my face and hands. I do my best to conceal them in public.
  9. The first thing I ever saw on a television screen was the laser room scene in “Goldfinger.”
  10. I’m a Christian who supports the theory of evolution and despises creationism. (Hey, I thought it was a sin to tell a lie….)
  11. To speed up the process, I used polyhedral dice to figure out which items went on the list.
  12. Black isn’t my favorite color. But for some reason, it has a relaxing effect on me.
  13. The streak of silver in my hair started as a big spot when I was 23.
  14. For some reason, I rarely recognize actors in person, no matter how famous or distinctive they are… even when they’re friends of mine.
  15. I’m rather shy. I was brought up to be seen, not heard. The fact that I’ve dealt with a lot of really screwed-up people didn’t help.
  16. I based my penmanship on those of my father and JRR Tolkien’s Elvish lettering.
  17. I got chicken pox when I was a teenager. I’ve had dry skin problems ever since.
  18. The backs of my hands still bear scars I gave myself from high school.
  19. I’m learning how to shave with a straight razor. Rather nice, actually.
  20. I once suffered with insomnia for four weeks straight because of nightmares.
  21. My ankle has been sprained at least six times.
  22. I don’t tell my mother what I do for a living. She thinks I’m going to Hell as it is.
  23. I’m Hispanic, a Mexican-American born and raised in Silicon Valley. I’ve been erroneously labeled white, Arabic, Filipino, and God knows what else.
  24. My cognitive memory started when I was about seven months old.
  25. This is one of the hardest things I’ve ever worked on.

Under The Pendulum, Over the Pit

Bloody typical. Just when I sit down to write my first posting in months, my stomach flips out. This year, par for the course.

This summer has been truly strange, a special brand of karmic brutality. Shouting “ew, ecky thump!” the way folks do (in northern England, apparently), and shouting it at the top of one’s lungs (as we often with just about everything here in the US) seems like the only sensible response. Or just typing WTF?!?!? a lot… but where’s the reading pleasure in that, y’know?

At the rate things have been going this year, I figured I ought to sit down and fill every last one of you out there on the innur-nets. Before something else happened.

Shortly after my last posting here, my wife and I had a sudden medical crisis. It had been building for a while. We’d been trying to have a baby. No success. That in itself hurts to admit, but only because I have the time to consider it. (Sometimes I wonder whether regret is a luxury, like pet peeves and celebrities.)

July didn’t give us that option, not when it dropped Jamie on the floor of a restroom, knocked down by mortal pain. Sounds urgent, don’t it? Hence her trip to Urgent Care. So you can probably appreciate the sheer incongruency of waiting for two weeks for a diagnosis, a clue, a recommended course of action, little things like that. The most we’d gotten was an effective ‘scrip of pain-killers for Jamie. A way to dull the pain, not to end it.

We had to take the initiative ourselves, demanding to see someone about her condition, and managed to shake a referral for a specialist out of our HMO. Even seeing him involved some hurry up ‘n’ wait. And once we see him, it was instantaneous crisis (just add speech). Jamie’s ovaries had to come out.

Four days later (I think), we were in the hospital with friends and fears in tow. I sat with Jamie during her prep in a tiny, tiny room. After hours of waiting, she was drugged up and rolled out. I was sent into a swanky waiting room.

I called friends and family, telling everyone surgery had finally begun. Flip the cellphone open. Dial. Talk. Focus on the words, not how to say them. Hide the crack in your voice. Close the line. Do all it again. And again. And again.

Sit down. Wait. Pretend you know how to get up again.

Two and a half hours later, I get the good news from the surgeon himself. The procedure went well and not a moment too soon. Jamie was doing fine. A half hour after that, the staff let me sneak upstairs to her room, so I could wait for her there. An odd sense of relief came over me. It simmered while I waited a bit longer for her to arrive. And it grew when the nurses rolled her into the room.

I didn’t expect her to be awake. Then she looked over the railing of her bed, tape and tubes trailing over her face and arm, and croaked out a surprisingly energetic, “Hey.”

I tried to conceal my stark horror when I saw the blood on her gown. On her thighs.

My God, what have we done…. No, think. She’s alive. Responding well, blah blah, endo-mee-tree-something gone.

My brain was almost useless that week. I was in a state of near-panic the whole time, terrified and exhausted, fully expecting more grief from somewhere. I went on like that for days. I didn’t think of calling a cab, only the cost and how the in-laws would love to pounce on me for it. Instead I took public transit — stuffing coins into ticket machines, shambling, staring through the road ahead. I got more numb every day. A woman pulled me off a train track before a light rail train could flatten me. Didn’t see it. Didn’t care. Scattered on the inside, dead on the outside.

Fortunately friends and family stepped in, helped us get home and well situated with a BBQ party that weekend. They kept us going, no matter how much or how little we asked of them. When they heard I hadn’t seen it yet, they even offered to take me to see “The Dark Knight.” I said thanks, but no. My mind was on Jamie, not Gotham City.

And cats. I still had the radioactive cat to take care of. Kyouju was still locked up in a cage, not exactly glowing like Dr. Manhattan, but about as hard to avoid with his wailing for release. Curiously enough, his last day in the cage was also Jamie’s last day in the hospital.

All that was months ago. Jamie is better. Jamie is home. Jamie is busy taking over the world again. I try not to give her a hard time, much more aware of what that time is worth.

So yeah. Weird-ass summer.

Why didn’t I just say that in the first place? Beats the hell outta me.

No Enemies In Science

Snarky remarks have been made about my recent cat-related blog postings. Awfully sorry to whine about friends dying around me. And on my own personal blog. How selfish of me.

Here’s a little change of pace. Let’s talk about global warming.

A few months ago, I worked on a radio adaptation of John Campbell’s classic short story “Who Goes There?” Most people remember it as The Thing From Another World and The Thing. I set the script in the modern day, which referred to a frozen island that was now a mile further away from the coast of Antarctica than it had been a year before the story began.

I was never sure how controversial that little snippet of backstory was — within the cast or the audience. There were questions about some other science bits, but not that.

This afternoon I stumbled on a news item. Here are three articles:

Antarctic ice shelf ‘hanging by thread’: European scientists

Antarctica’s Wilkins Ice Shelf eroding at an unforeseen pace

Antarctic Ice Shelf Disintegration Underscores a Warming World

Here in the fact-based world, the Wilkins Ice Shelf didn’t lose one or two measly square miles. It lost 160 square miles.

And the audience at the live show thought we were scary. Sleep tight, kiddies.