Archive for June, 2009

Lamborghini In My Driveway

Lamborghini

5-Year-Old Soccer

5-Year-Old Soccer

Ten Quick Questions

Who are you?

You know what? I was over-thinking this one.

Robert Fulghum said it best in an essay when he said that he was a breather. It’s the thing he does the most and he claims to be pretty good at it. I’m a breather too.

Aside from that, I’m a dopey husband and struggling dad. I used to think a lot about life and the hidden things in and around it, and then I stopped.

I just try to remember to enjoy the ride as best I can because, one day, I’m going to die.

Zombies – undead monstrosity or the next logical step in human evolution?

Listen, I don’t care what-the-fuck zombies are. I just know that, according to Facebook, I’m going to survive the Zombie Apocalypse by fleeing to a house in the woods, setting traps, and using friends and family as bait.

Sorry, peeps.

Young Elvis or Fat Elvis?

Elvis is in your jeans.
He’s in your cheesburgers.
Elvis is in Nutty Buddies!
Elvis is in your mom!

Fat Elvis is kinda creepy, though entertaining. I’m going to have to go with Young Elvis …

Fuck it, FAT ELVIS RULES!

If you were a superhero, what would your name be?

I don’t know. I’ve never thought about it. I do, however, have some superhero rules:

  1. I’m not wearing spandex;
  2. I’m not wearing a cape;
  3. I’m not going to be named after an animal or my one superhero trick;
  4. I want a gun;
  5. I think flying is a trick, I don’t trust it & don’t want to do it;
  6. I don’t want a side-kick, unless he’s Tom Arnold from True Lies;
  7. The chick knows who I really am;
  8. I’m going to get paid for what I do, or I’m going to rob banks;
  9. I’m only going to fight criminals. If the zombies or aliens come, you fuckers are on your own;
  10. When I’m on vacation, I’m on vacation. Call 911.

You are the last man on earth, and it is your job to perpetuate the human race, whether you like it or not. Your choice of potential mates is between Wonder Woman, the Bionic Woman or Super Girl. Which one do you choose?

If we’re talking actresses:

Lindsay “Bionic Woman” Wagner isn’t even in Helen “Supergirl” Slater’s league.

And Lynda “Wonder Woman” Carter makes Helen “Supergirl” Slater look like a boy.

I think the decision makes itself.

If we’re talking super-heroines:

Then the Bionic Woman is out; she has parts. I’m not going to procreate with a woman that is one-quarter Oldsmobile.

Wonder Woman has that “truth serum” rope. That’s a buzzkill. “Honey, does this serape make me look fat?” “I’ll tell you as soon as you put the lasso down.”

Super Girl? I was a Marvel Comics guy. I didn’t even get into DC Comics, so I don’t know much about her.

Without any further research, Super Girl wins just based on this photo from the Wikipedia: Super Girl.

What was your first car?

1976 Plymouth Duster baby! Just like the one in the photograph below.

The front seat was held in place by a 2×4 wedged in it’s hinge. If you hit a bump and didn’t have back pressure on the seat, the seat would fall flat. A hell of a surprise when you borrowed my car for the first time.

And you could make left turns by taking your hands off the steering wheel and pumping the breaks. Pretty useful when you’re hung over and too tired to hold the steering wheel.

God, I miss that smelly car.

1976 Plymouth Duster

If you were going to show me around your city/town, where’s the first place you would take me?

The Moon Motel. $15 per night. Bring your own sheets.

I should stop there. I think that’s funny but …

Technically, the Moon Motel is the next town north of mine so I guess that wouldn’t count.

I’d probably take you to the beach, because that’s where you’re supposed to take people when they get here for the first time.

What’s the last album you bought?

Dave Matthews Band: Big Whiskey and the Groogrux King.

Yeh, I know. Some of you aren’t impressed. But I really like Dave Matthews: he plays guitar a little differently than we’re used to, sings honestly, and writes a good lyrics.

What? You want me  to lie and say, “Lou Reed” or “Howlin’ Wolf”? I’m almost 45-years-old. I’m not that cool anymore.

Do you have an arch enemy? Would you like one?

I had one. I killed him with my powers of hate. I already talked about it here.

I don’t want another arch enemy.

What’s the title of the movie they are going to make about your teenage years?

Man, they already made it. Haven’t you seen it? 3 O’Clock High. The Wikipedia even has an entry about it.

Rattle Snake

Rattler

ADCC 2009 East Coast Trials

ADCC

Renzo Gracie

Renzo Gracie With Josh Madama

Renzo Gracie With My Instructor, Josh Madama

The biggest grappling tournament in the world is the Abu Dhabi Combat Club (ADCC) Championships. It collects the best grapplers — Brazilian jiu-jitsu players, wrestlers, sambo players, judoka — from around the world and has them compete in one grand tournament.

This weekend I went to the East Coast trials for the ADCC Championships to watch my instructor, Josh Madama, compete and attempt to qualify for the finals. He didn’t win and lost his first match to a kneebar after fending off a blitz of leg attacks. But that’s not what this story is about. This story is about my brief conversation with Renzo (pronounce: HEN-zoe) Gracie. Renzo, a grandson of one of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu’s founders, is a Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, combat grappling, and mixed martial arts legend.

I first met Renzo almost 20 years ago when he first came to the United States from Brazil. He was friends with my then Brazilian Jiu-jitsu instructor, Craig Kukuk.

A friend of mine told me, “Renzo Gracie is here. He’s sitting on the same level bench as us.” My friend pointed and, sure enough, Renzo was watching the matches a mere 30-feet from us.

“I’m going to introduce myself,” I said.

“I’m not. That’s Renzo Gracie. I’ll wait for Josh (our instructor) to introduce me.”

“I met him 20 years ago, I’m not afraid to talk to him.” And I wasn’t nervous. I didn’t hesitate. I walked the 30-feet.

“Mr. Gracie,” I held out my hand. “I’m Jim McCormick. I met you 20 years ago when you first came to the United States. I was training. You came to my school.”

He shook my hand and smiled, “Hello, my friend. Do me a favor,” he looked around and whispered. “Tell everyone 10 years! Tell them you knew me 10 years ago!” He laughed and then continued, “You training in Red Bank, right? At Dave …”

“… Lentz. Dave Lentz’s place.”

“Right! Are you still training?”

“Just started again. Took about 18 years off.”

“It’s great that you are training again. What school are you going to?”

“Madama Jiu-jitsu in Toms River.”

“Josh Madama! Oh, he’s good. You’ll learn good jiu-jitsu from him. I brought him to Japan with me once. He’s a good guy.”

“Why don’t you come down to the school one day?”

“Oh, I will. I will. And I want you to come to mine.”

“I promise.”

And then I introduced him to my 12-year-old son. Told him that he was training too. And I left him alone.

I felt like I could have continued talking to him, but I wasn’t going to impose. He was here to watch the fights, to watch his students. And a large portion of the fighters were his students, if only indirectly.

There were fighters from the following schools that are affiliated with Renzo Gracie:

  • Renzo Gracie Jiu-jitsu (his school);
  • Serra Jiu-jitsu (his first American black belt’s school);
  • Ricardo Almeida Jiu-jitsu (another of his black belt’s schools);
  • Madama Jiu-jitsu (a Serra brown belt’s school);
  • Ocean Jiu-jitsu Academy (an Almeida black belt’s school);
  • Shore Jiu-jitsu Academy (another Almeida black belt’s school);
  • Silver Fox Jiu-jitsu (another Renzo black belts’ school).

I am, indirectly, a Renzo Gracie student, and am very proud that he took a couple of minutes to talk with me.

Renzo, thank you. I’ll see you in class.

Girls, Girls, Girls

Men are idiots. I’m telling you that as an inside man. We’re idiots.

Sometimes I wonder how you ladies allowed us to be in charge of so much stuff. And then I read this little ditty about the 88-year-old guy who shot up the holocaust museum yesterday:

When his ex-wife met him in the mid-1960s, he was a wine swiller consumed by hatred.

“[It] ate him alive like a cancer,†said the 69-year-old woman, who did not want her name used. “It’s all he would talk about. When I questioned him, he would get angry and abusive.â€

He was a “wine swiller consumed by hatred (and) would get angry and abusive†whenever he was questioned about it. And still he was able to attract a woman 20 years younger than him.

“I know he’s a hateful, abusive drunkard, but I just HAVE to have him. I’m not going to let any other woman get this man. He is a keeper.â€

Ladies, it’s girls like her (and the one’s that marry the Menendez brothers and Scott Petersons of the world) that are holding you back. You need to do something about them.

…

In a related note, if you’re a guy that wants a girl and can’t get one, maybe you’re gay but won’t admit it.

…

[SOURCE: The New York Daily News: Holocaust Museaum Shooter]

On Being a Parent

The job of Mom or Dad is the most difficult job in the world. Period. You are responsible for a life. And there are no short cuts. No buck passing.

Eight years ago. 4AM. My son, then four-years-old, let out a barky-gaspy cough. My wife ran to his room. The child told her that he was having trouble breathing.

She felt his head. Burning up. Quick temperature check with the ear thermometer. 106.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

Oof!

“Jim,” my wife called. “He’s got a fever of 106.6! Should we bring him to the hospital.”

Cogitating: 106.6 is almost 108. 108 can fry your brain and kill you. The hospital’s going to do its damnest to get the fever down. We can get the fever down quicker here. And without all the hassle and paperwork. I hate paperwork. Or calling the HMO. I hate HMOs.

Processing Time: 0.02 microseconds.

“Let’s stay home and get it down here.”

My wife gave him 150 milligrams of ibuprofin. And we started a cold washcloth bucket brigade. We had four or five washcloths cycling. My wife would keep him cool and wet. When a washcloth got warmish, I soaked it in ice-cold tap water and returned it to her. All the while, she was getting him to drink water.

In fifteen minutes, his temperature was 101 degrees F. Livable. Much less scary.

My wife was the hero. She stayed up with him the rest of the night. She was his guardian angel while he slept.

Come sunrise, his temperature is normal. And he wanted to go to school.

Kids are tough. Moms are tougher.

Parenting is even tougher.

Postscript: Bringing the child to the emergency room was probably the more prudent thing to do. But also, when considering the story, realize that my wife and I are both registered nurses. That factored into our decision to stay home.

How Not To Die

“He wasn’t feeling well, so he went to the hospital” is how the old lady’s story started. Her husband didn’t have a fever and no obvious signs of infection. Still, as a precaution, his doctor started him on a broad-spectrum antibiotic. This might have been the keystone to his death.

She was in her early-80′s. Healthy. “So was he, until 4 months ago,” she confided. “We were living the life. We’d go out a couple of times each week. Our children and grandchildren lived close by. We walked on the beach. Held hands. Now it’s gone, and I don’t know what to do.”

While in the hospital, he started having diarrhea. Foul-smelling, copious diarrhea.

A stool sample confirmed: C. Diff.

C. Diff or clostridium difficile is a bacterial infection, often called a “super bug”, that is usually acquired in hospitals and nursing homes. C. diff hits the elderly hard, knocks them for a loop, and often kills them with alarming frequency.

C. Diff didn’t kill her husband. But it did make him so weak that he couldn’t go home. Instead, he was transferred from the hospital to a “sub-acute nursing facility” (aka, a nursing home). The plan was for him to get sick, improve his strength, rehabilitate, and return home with his wife.

In the nursing home, he developed a pressure ulcer — a bed sore — on his sacrum. It eroded the skin and muscle down to his sacral bone. “It was the size of a saucer,” she said. And it became infected. He was readmitted to the hospital.

“He was so weak. He was like a kitten,” she told me.

The infection didn’t 100% resolve at the hospital, but they did get it under control. He was started on a new round of antibiotics and discharged, once again, to a sub-acute nursing facility.

“But I didn’t trust that old nursing home. I had him sent to a different one. He never got any better. He didn’t even get out of bed. He got worse. The nursing home sent him back to the hospital. And he died.”

In my experience, this isn’t that uncommon. An elderly person goes to the hospital, gets sicker in the hospital than s/he was before getting there, is discharged to a subacute nursing facility, and never gets home. A little more than 10% of people admitted to a nursing home for short-term rehabilitation either stay long-term or die trying to get home. (These are my statistics, and you can trust me, my mortgage depends on me getting numbers like that right.)

I’m not saying, “Don’t send Grandpop to the hospital.” I’m just telling a story.

Why I Am

From time-to-time a song hits me immediately. My eyes well with tears. I choke back the emotion so that I won’t be consumed.

It’ll happen before my conscious mind even knows what the song is about. Lyle Lovett’s “If I Had a Boat” hit me like that. And, for some unknown reason, it still chokes me up. I like that.

“Why I Am” from Dave Matthews Band’s newly release Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King album hits me like that.

Turns out the song is a knowing smile and a wink of misty eye to LeRoi Moore. LeRoi Moore died after complications from an ATV accident just as the album was beginning to be made. A founding member, he was the band’s saxophone player. The album is partially named after him: his nickname was GrooGrux and LeRoi is French for the King. LeRoi Moore is the GrooGrux King.

Do with the song what you will. I don’t expect it to effect you the way it does me. I’ve included the lyrics and a video at the end of this post. But here is why I think it speaks to me:

I have long held in my head the concept of The Last Kiss. There will be a day, hopefully a long time from now, when your lover will kiss you and the next time you see him or her one of you will be dead.

You never know when that kiss will be. I’ll kiss you and then you’ll be no more. We’ll be taken away from each each other. And we don’t know if that’s forever, or if we’ll meet again.

When I hear the chorus resound It’s why I am! I think of my wife. She is Why I am.

And, like in the song, there will be a time:

When my ghost takes me from you
You can remember the fool that I am
Don’t cry baby, don’t cry

I think of her again. I think of that Last Kiss. And I miss her already. And I don’t want her to miss me.

Just want her to remember that she is Why I am.

And should you leave before me, I’ll be singing something like this to you:

And where my story ends, it’s gonna end with him
Heaven or hell, I’m going down with the GrooGrux King

My wife and I will be married 21 years tomorrow. This year also marks a quarter century that she’s been in my life.

And I don’t want to sugar-coat this too much: I am not easy to live with and she has her faults to. But she chose me and I chose her. And if she can live forever with my short-comings, I promise to never to dwell on hers.

But there is no one I’d rather spin around this universe with than her. On this blue and green speck, I’m enjoying our dance.

You and me against the world, baby.

You are Why I Am.

WHY I AM – by Dave Matthews

I grew from monkey into man
Then I crushed 15 million with a wave of my hand
I grew drunk on water turned into wine
‘Til I was slave and master at the same damn time

But it’s why I am
It’s why I am
Why I am still here dancing with the GrooGrux King

Out of my head and into the room, hello

A king of men, it makes no sense
Oh bow to the priest while I worship the wench
but it’s why I am always the one who’d make you smile
Why I am
I’m still a snake in the woodpile
It’s why I am still here dancing with the GrooGrux King

Out of my head and into the room
So when my ghost takes me from you
You can remember the fool that I am
Don’t cry baby, don’t cry

The lose and the win of the world
Wrong and right, us and them of the world
It’s the you and the me of the world
But only one way out of the world
It’s the lose and the win of the world
Wrong and right, us and them of the world
It’s the you and the me of the world
Only one way out of the world

It’s why I am unlikely to agree
Why I am, climbing out of my monkey tree
Why I am still here dancing with the GrooGrux King
We’ll be drinking Big Whiskey while we dance and sing
and where my story ends, it’s gonna end with him
Heaven or hell, I’m going down with the GrooGrux King

Why I am the apple of your pretty eye
Why I am the snake in the woodpile
It’s why I am still here dancing with the GrooGrux King

Out of my head and into the room
So when my ghost takes me from you
You can remember the fool that I am
Don’t cry baby, don’t cry