Top Five Worst Things About My Recent Hospital Stay

After spending three days in the hospital for the birth of our daughter, I thought I would offer Sacred Heart some constructive criticism regarding things that were lacking in our stay:

1. No Pool. Admittedly, I didn’t expect there to be a pool for hospital guests so this is a minor complaint. I’m just thinking out loud here, but maybe if a hospital was a little more like a hotel, patients might recover quicker, and their guests wouldn’t be so bored waiting for them to recover. People that plan hospitals never think of things like this.

2. Our hospital room was apparently located in a tunnel. That’s the only explanation I can think of for why we didn’t receive cell phone service in our room. Aside from abandoned coal mines and black holes, I honestly didn’t think places existed anymore that didn’t receive cell phone service. Well, you can now officially add Sacred Heart room #2007 to that list. So, on one of the biggest spread-the-news events in my life, we had to spend our hospital stay without convenient contact to the outside world. For the record, I did notice that I had a signal at other parts of the hospital, but I refused to be one of those self-important a-holes that carries on a loud conversation in a crowded waiting room or while walking through hallways that are supposed to be quiet. Consequently, the few transmissions I was able to make actually came from the parking lot outside the hospital. Sweet one, Sacred Heart.

3. No turn-down service for the beds. Actually, I have an additional complaint that there was no turn-up service either. If you are a spouse staying in the hospital, it’s a given that you’ll be sleeping on the couch with whatever random bedding supplies that can be scrounged. And while it may seem like easy pickings, it is generally frowned upon to steal blankets off of a sleeping baby.

4. My wife controlled the TV through her hospital bed. Wow. Talk about a design flaw. While there are several problems with this arrangement, the biggest was that my wife has horrible taste in television programming, as evidenced by her love of the show “The Biggest Loser.” Or, as I like to call it, “The Fattest Loser.” I think that pretty much sums up what I had to endure for three days. And naturally, even though it was readily available, the nursing staff refused to give me any morphine for my pain and suffering.

5. Room service doesn’t understand how most people use condiments. I ordered French toast, they sent it without butter. We called for some fries, but they didn’t send ketchup. They even sent a sandwich up with just bread and meat. You don’t realize how important condiments are until you are deprived of them. Your food just doesn’t taste right, and some things are downright inedible. Even though all hospital condiments come on the side anyway, they must be specially requested, or they assume you want everything served totally plain. Evidently, their philosophy is to err on the side of disappointing 99% of their patients.

To be fair, I do have a significant level of praise for the staff at Sacred Heart. They delivered a healthy addition to the Centaur family, meet Annie Jane: (Born 3-13-08, 7lbs 1oz.)

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And here I am with both kids:

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Please note that some of their Centaur features haven’t developed yet, as typically their horse legs and tail don’t blossom until their senior year of high school, just like the movie Teen Wolf. And yes, since these things sometimes skip a generation, I won’t bother to tell them of their pending transformation until they are freaking out in a bathroom prior to an important high school dance.

While we’re here, I wanted to address the lack of posts over the last few months. As you know, I am a busy, busy man. And having kids not only eats up a lot of my time, but it really saps my energy as well. While my I can still zombie my way through my workday, my evenings are now devoted to providing constant discipline to my children.

So, I do appreciate the column ideas people have sent to me (there have been several good ones), but lack of ideas isn’t the problem here. I promise, things will pick up again. All in due time.

Finally, regarding item #2 above, when I was finally able to receive a cell phone signal, I had over two dozen messages from Zillionaire nation waiting to congratulating me on the birth of Annie. Thanks everyone, you guys are the best.

The Krusty Force

All around us, there are forces of nature, such as gravity and magnetism, that act upon our world. However, there is another force of nature that you are probably unaware of, a power I like to call “The Krusty Force.

In essence, Krusty Force measures the comedic impact of someone accidentally destroying a functional piece of furniture through seemingly normal use. It is named after my good friend, and fellow Zillionaire, Krusty… for obvious reasons.

Here’s how it works: Krusty Force is created through the unfortunate mixture of leverage, awkward placement of body weight, and overall girth that puts undue pressure on a piece of furniture, causing it to instantly crumble into a worthless piece of garbage beneath you.

All of us have witnessed this phenomenon at one time or another. Perhaps it involved watching someone try to sit in an aluminum camping chair, only to see it immediately collapse into a twisted piece of scrap metal under their weight. Maybe you recall watching someone lean innocently against a table, forcing the legs to buckle and causing the offender to fall flat on the table while food and drinks spill onto the floor. The resulting finger pointing and laughter from onlookers is the product of Krusty Force.

Some of you might argue that these events could be explained through ordinary physics. I disagree, on the grounds that ordinary physics cannot measure the comedic impact of two objects colliding. That’s where the Krusty Force comes into play.

So how does one quantify Krusty Force? Well, mass and velocity must be taken into account, as well as four other important variables:

Quality of the Item Destroyed (Q$): Obviously, anyone can demolish a cheap piece of furniture without the use of Krusty Force. For that reason, furniture from IKEA is exempt from this analysis, as pretty much everything they sell is a rickety piece of garbage right out of the box. In fact, I believe that Saturday Night Live buys all of their prop furniture directly from IKEA, as everything they sell is basically constructed to turn to splinters under a Chris Farley belly flop right at the factory.

Timing and Irony (T&I): Just as a tree falling in the forest doesn’t make a sound, someone clumsily breaking a piece of furniture without an audience doesn’t get a laugh. Therefore, the Krusty Force is greatly increased when antiques, family heirlooms, or furniture belonging to in-laws or bosses meet their demise, especially before a significant crowd. And as you would expect, the more people present, and the more awkward the social situation, the greater the Krusty Force.

Restoration (R): Can the recently flattened piece of furniture be fixed and restored to its original condition? This is critical, and the answer must be “no.” While Krusty Force generally renders furniture completely useless, at the very least, the item must not ever be able to function as well or look right ever again. If not immediately discarded into a dumpster or set ablaze, the item must bear scars of its encounter with Krusty Force for the rest of its life. And in doing so, it will forever become more of a conversation piece than a piece of furniture.

Duplication (D): This aspect is tricky. First off, only a select few can wield the Krusty Force upon unsuspecting furniture. And those of us that can, do so unwittingly. Therefore, demonstrations of Krusty Force must happen completely by accident, causing witnesses to marvel that a piece of furniture they once thought sturdy could disintegrate so easily. In essence, the duplication factor measures how likely it would be for such a feat to inadvertently occur a second time.

To summarize, Krusty Force (KF) = (Q$ – R + T&I / D ) Mass x Velocity

Finally, as you might have guessed, my passion to study the phenomenon known as “The Krusty Force” was fueled over an episode that affected me personally.

We were playing a board game, I shifted my weight against the armrest of my chair, and it snapped instantly. This was a nice chair, made of solid pine, and it was part of our dining room set. While others laughed openly at my misfortune, I gasped in horror.

You see, I’m not particularly strong or heavy, yet I snapped the armrest like a toothpick. Knowing Krusty for 20 years, I realized that when no other known property of physics can properly explain the destruction of a piece of furniture, chalk it up to Krusty Force.

Facing the fact that I would spend the rest of my days wreaking havoc on innocent ottomans and coffee tables, I called the world’s foremost authority on the subject, hoping he could offer me some words of advice. Here’s what Krusty said:

“Well, you definitely need to pre-test every piece of furniture from now on. And you should always have a funny comeback in your head in case it does break, because people will always laugh at you.”

Fantastic. I guess I’ll just have to learn to live with it. Now that I am capable of wielding Krusty Force, the world is my China shop, and I am the bull.

Having a Zillionairette

I can still remember it vividly… It was flat-out unwatchable, perhaps the most pitiful display of high school athletics I’d ever witnessed. At the time, I was a sophomore in college, attending my sister’s high school softball game as a gesture of support.

At the conclusion of the game, my sister ran over to where my family was sitting.

My sister: “Did you see my four home runs!?!”

Me: “Yes I did. Well, actually, you had four singles. Because there were multiple fielding and throwing errors committed by the defense, you were able to score on each hit. Just so you know, those aren’t considered “home runs”. Technically, you had four singles and the defense committed eleven errors while you ran the bases. That’s how it should be scored.”

My sister: “Whatever, you’re just jealous.”

Me: “I can assure you that I am not.”

My Dad (glaring at me): “No, those were some great hits Sweetheart. All of them were home runs.”

And so it goes. Mercifully, that was the last girls’ softball game I ever attended.

As we left the ballpark, I thought of my parents, willfully sitting in the stands watching every single game. My dad wasn’t reading a newspaper during the game. He wasn’t sipping from a flask either. Instead, he had a pencil and a little piece of paper and was keeping track of all my sister’s at-bats. He legitimately cared about what was going on in the field. I simply couldn’t wrap my head around that.

I have a feeling that is about to change. While this episode happened almost ten years ago, I found myself thinking about it again this week. You see, we found out on Tuesday that the bun currently roasting in my wife’s oven is a female bun. In other words, we’re having a little girl.

I started this post with the story about high school softball for a reason. I’m slowly finding out that the prospect of having a girl makes you think about things like this. It’s weird, to say the least. This is on top of the usual worries dads face, you know, about having to one day threaten a high school boy with physical violence, having to put off retirement for another year to pay for a wedding, and having to deal with a son-in-law that spends an inexorable amount of time playing video games and dressing up like Star Wars characters.

I’m not looking forward to any of these things, but they are in my immediate future. I’m starting to think that this is how my Dad was able to enjoy himself at softball games. Instead of putting asterisks next to the “home runs” being hit, he was simply happy to spend time with his daughter and put off worrying about things like the possibility of a future prom date pulling into his driveway with a windowless van. Ah, fatherhood…

With that said, here are a few answers to some FAQs:

A girl, huh?
Yes indeed.

How do you feel about that?
I’m warming up to the idea. On the one hand, it will be an entirely new experience from having a boy. I’m sure I will gain a lot of new perspective on life in general in this process. And, I think gray hair can be a dignified look on a man.

Any ideas for a name yet?
Actually, “Prudence” has a nice ring to it.

Truthfully, I haven’t given it much thought. Because we are having a girl, it likely means I won’t be able to revive the effort to name our child “Lando Calrissian Ring.”

How is your wife doing?
Excellent question. As soon as she’s done insulating the crawl space, I’ll ask her.

When is the due date?
March 17th. I’m banking that the hospital will be serving green beers in the cafeteria.

How is little Charlie taking the news?
As you would expect, Charlie is taking it like a man.

C’mon… Did you pull off a snipe?
I won’t lie, it actually took me two shots this time. I don’t know what happened. Maybe I didn’t properly account for wind direction or the humidity. Sometimes, in the murkiness of battle, miscalculations can occur. However, I made sure to track the flight path of the first round, and adjusted accordingly on my next shot. As you might expect, my second shot went dead-center through the ovum. Mission Accomplished, time for extraction.

Explaining The Prefixes “Ass” and “Butt” To A Foreigner

As you know, helping others is a passion of mine.

The other day, a foreigner came up to me with a perplexed look. He was worried that he was about to lose his job over a simple breakdown in communication. The English language is complicated, and sometimes common expressions can become lost in translation for non-native speakers.

From what I gathered, his supervisor told him to deliver an “ass-load” of lumber to the construction site. It’s a simple enough request. The problem is, the foreigner showed up with a mere “butt-load.” You can imagine the frustration of the supervisor.

I chuckled as he relayed the story to me. True, confusing “ass-load” and “butt-load” is an easy misunderstanding when you think about it. As I explained to the foreigner, both terms reference tremendously large, burdensome quantities. For instance, you might say that you have an “ass-load of homework to do” or that you have a “butt-load of bills to pay.”

However, there is a distinction between the two words: an ass-load is much, much bigger than a butt-load. I elaborated further, that while it does imply a pretty massive quantity, a butt-load is still somewhat manageable. On the other hand, an ass-load is a quantity that is almost impossible to achieve.

“Think of it this way,” I told him, “if someone requests an ass-load of something, give them as much of it as is humanly possible, as there is no greater quantity of anything than an ass-load. On top of that, you can never exceed an ass-load. For instance, you’ll never hear someone say, ‘Whoa, whoa… this is way too much… I only wanted an ass-load of French fries.”

I continued on, “Now, think of a butt-load as generally one-fourth of an ass-load. Granted, it’s still a lot, but it’s somewhat doable.”

Despite this explanation, I could see the foreigner was still having a hard time understanding the concept. Then it dawned on me, in the foreigner’s native land, they used the metric system. Pulling out my TI-85, I used the conversion function to demonstrate that an ass-load was really 1.78 “arse-loads”, the corresponding unit of measure in the metric system. I could see it was starting to make sense.

I figured while I had the foreigner’s attention, it was incumbent upon me to share with him some of the other usages of the prefixes “ass” and “butt” to avoid future embarrassing mishaps. “In our culture,” I began, “the words “ass” and “butt” can be powerful modifiers of traditional words. In fact, in some circumstances, a prefix of “ass” or “butt” will make the word take on its most extreme form. Here are some examples…”

“For starters, let’s say you have to catch a flight in the wee hours of the morning. Obviously, you’d want to get up pretty early. You may even be forced to get up “ass-early”. This is the earliest possible time a person can be woken up from a full-on sleeping state. Technically speaking, the actual time of day you’d get out of bed would be the “butt-crack of dawn”. And naturally, the butt-crack of dawn is ridiculously earlier than the real crack of dawn.”

“Now when it comes to your job, if you hit traffic you might show up late for work. However, if it has been several hours, and there is considerable doubt you will show up for work at all, that is being “ass-late” for work. Generally, that means arriving at least two hours or so later from when you were supposed to be there. Similarly, if you have an important deadline, you might find yourself working ass-late at the office. Working ass-late means that when you finally do get home from work, all you do is go straight to bed so that you can get enough sleep to handle being at work at eight a.m. the next morning.”

“Also, if someone is really worthless at their job, they might be called “ass-lazy.” For the record, ass-lazy is as lazy as someone can possibly be. Even worse, if you have no professionalism whatsoever, you might get called an “ass-clown.” As you might expect, an “ass-clown” is even more of a buffoon than a regular clown.”

“And finally, when it comes to a blind date, worst-case scenario is that your date is “butt-ugly” with “ass-breath.” If you find yourself in that situation, just tell her you have to get up “ass-early” the next day and cut the date short.”

The foreigner thanked me for my help and we parted ways. I tried to make a joke about how this should help him “ass-similate” to our culture, but he didn’t get it. I thought it was clever though, and laughed to myself as I crossed the street.

A Business Letter To My Parents

Dear Mom and Dad:

If you recall, in the summer of 2006, I gave you a total of $30 to cover gas expenses in exchange for unlimited use of your jet skis. These contributions were given on two separate occasions, one in the amount of $20 and the other for $10. In neither instance was I given a receipt.

While no formal method of accounting was ever agreed upon, I assumed that my jet ski usage was essentially prepaid not only through 2006, but through 2007 as well, and possibly covered into the beginning of 2008. You can imagine my dismay when I learned that you sold your jet skis two weeks ago.

Since then, I have been patiently waiting for the remaining balance of my jet ski gasoline contribution to be refunded.

To further complicate matters, I was never provided monthly statements showing the accrual of my jet ski usage along with the corresponding deductions to the gasoline fund. Because of this, I do not have a firm dollar figure on what my balance should be.

To remedy this, I estimated my account value utilizing the most fair and prudent assumptions possible. Using the highest possible gas price in 2006, and rounding up my hourly usage, I feel that the absolute minimum my account value should be is $7.32. As a gesture of good-faith, I am willing to settle on this amount, even though my actual balance could be well in excess of eight or nine dollars.

I believe this to be a very fair compromise. My family and I have very much enjoyed visits to your lake place in the summer, and we hope that this matter can be addressed expeditiously. Please find enclosed a self-addressed stamped envelope. And as a further courtesy, we would prefer a money order to a personal check.

Thank you for your consideration,