100 Lost Essays.

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Still here, still super. Here are a few CDP-related things to start off the week:

1. You’ll notice that the archiving in the sidebar has changed from monthly to weekly. A while back, I noticed that the monthly archiving was omitting several posts for some reason (probably because there are nearly 1300 of them), which meant that when you clicked on a monthly archive link, you were missing out on a lot of essays. With weekly archiving, everything appears to be back to where it’s supposed to be.

So check it out! You may discover that there were dozens of ‘lost’ CDP essays you didn’t read simply because they weren’t listed in the former archives. Even I discovered quite a few things that I had completely forgotten I had written because I was also used to the bizarrely-edited monthly archives. Pretty neat.

2. The next chapter of the ‘Let’s Go To The Hospital!‘ saga will arrive soon. Essays have been scarce due to a abnormally large time away from my computer. It’s like, real life or something. Either way, it’s scary and I plan on remedying the situation as soon as possible.

3. I was initially working on allowing Facebook comments on here, but it’s become a formatting nightmare. If you think you would comment more if FB comments were enabled, please let me know. Otherwise I’m keeping it the way it is, and you can just comment on my actual Facebook page.

4. Podcast, podcast, podcast! Yes, I’m considering it.

Sound off in the comments section and enjoy your day.

Let’s Go To The Hospital! (Part 1)

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I got sick on Easter. It was a day of shaking hands, eating potluck food and hanging around with people (and immune systems) that I normally wouldn’t fraternize with. By the time I was driving home that evening, I felt that little tickle in the back of my throat; the warning sign that whispers, “You’re about to feel like wet garbage for the next three weeks, and there’s not a gall garwshdarn thing you can do about it.

My inner voice sometimes sounds like a grizzled prospector.

Right on cue, I woke up the next day with my (severely) sore throat swollen almost completely shut, and my nostrils following suit. I had practically sweat right through the mattress of my bed (moreso than usual), and the Missus said she got about two hours of sleep due to the horrible noises I was making.

Sorry about that,” I tried to say with as much conviction as possible, but 10 straight hours of coughing had turned my voicebox to static. I sounded like Harvey Fierstein.

I called in sick. Not because I couldn’t drag myself into work and just sit there motionless for the day, but because I knew that once they heard me, I would be chastised and thrown out of the office for being a compassionless turd who didn’t think of the health and well-being of others. If you develop a cough in a white collar environment, you might as well have your rotten limbs and digits falling off in clumps, because you’re the Office Leper until further notice. It’s pointless to go to work when you’re clearly infectious. 

I tried to take care of myself with a combo of NyQuil and Aleve ‘Cold and Sinus,’ a drug that you can no longer get over-the-counter due to meth addicts, I guess. You now have to ask for it by name at the pharmacy, show your Driver’s License and literally sign a contract that says you won’t use the medication to produce meth.

I’ve had to go through this process a few times now, and it always gives me an anxiety attack. I only need this stuff when I’m scraggly and sick out of my mind, so I can only imagine what I look like when I’m asking for the medication while frantically tapping my debit card on the counter. I’m certain they have never once believed I was going to use Aleve ‘Cold and Sinus’ for its intended purpose. Their problem, but it’s still an annoying Catch-22.

For the entire week after Easter, I alternated between going to work and taking sporadic afternoons off. I wasn’t getting better, my voice was thoroughly trashed (phone calls and speaking at meetings was an impossibility) and I was falling asleep at 7:30 each night to no avail. I didn’t want to go to the doctor, but I feared pneumonia or bronchitis, so early the following week, I finally caved.

I’ve only had pneumonia once, and from what I heard from my mother, it nearly killed me shortly after I was born. Health-wise, I think it’s the closest I’ve ever been to actually dying due to illness. Bronchitis was something I’ve had once or twice, and each time I let it run its course with limited medication (which is stupid). It was time to get proactive, albeit nine days after the fact.

I drove myself to Urgent Care at 10am on a Tuesday, which is something I’ve done exactly one other time in my life. My wife, on the other hand, is an Urgent Care VIP. If hospitals had a Preferred Customer Club, she’d have accumulated enough frequent flier miles to take us straight into the Sun. I’m quite stubborn when it comes to breaking down and seeing a doctor for something, but when green shit is propelling itself from my lungs, I’m not dumb enough to sit around and be passive.

When I checked in at the hospital, they asked me what my problem was. I told them I had a bad cold, a bad cough and wanted some antibiotics. The word ‘cough’ triggered immediate action from the clerks, who handed me a surgical mask to put on, as to not potentially infect anyone else in the waiting room.

Me, being sort of a narcissist (even at the hospital), didn’t listen. I sort of said “uh-huh” and walked away stuffing the mask into my pocket. I was fine, and furthermore, I was a grown man. I could go 10 minutes in a waiting room without having to cough. I wasn’t going to bother anyone; it was no big deal.

At the next hurdle of the check-in process, I was handed a clipboard with some questions on it. One of them was: “Were you given a surgical mask to wear?” Now, I didn’t want to get someone fired by lying, so I checked “Yes” and handed the clipboard back to the receptionist when she was distracted by a phone call, hoping that by the time she put two-and-two together, I would already be back in my car and halfway to the pharmacy.

I quietly sat in the corner of the waiting room and felt fortunate that there were only two other people in there. On the multitude of occasions where I’ve had to bring my wife in, the place is usually stacked to the rafters with plague-infested Walkers. I played Minesweeper on my phone and patiently waited my turn.

Then my throat started to tickle. I had to cough.

I contained myself for the first couple minutes, but there’s apparently nothing more difficult than suppressing a cough (much to my idiotic surprise). I coughed quietly into the crook of my arm a few times before I started to worry that I would be caught without a surgical mask on. I fantasized that some silent alarm would go off behind the reception desk, triggering a wave of CDC agents to swarm and toss me directly into quarantine. As clandestine as I could, I snuck into the bathroom where I proceeded to invite a coughing fit that lasted the better part of five minutes. I coughed so hard I nearly peed my pants. Thankfully, they didn’t call my name while I was indisposed.

When I got back to my seat (still not wearing my mask), I noticed a mother and her daughter seated nearby. The little girl was adorable; probably about 4-years old with a Spring dress and a bow in her hair. I watched her and her mother interact for a few minutes; she was very reserved and well-behaved. Then she coughed.

The noise that emitted from this child was other-worldly. I was convinced that she was recently retrieved from some South American coalmine disaster. There was simply no known disease on the face of the Earth that would make someone sound like this. In a panic, I strapped on my crumpled surgical mask as fast as possible. You win, urgent care; whatever this 4-year old had would’ve most certainly ended my life.

When my name was finally called, I sat with a nurse for a few minutes and did the whole questionnaire thing you have to do before seeing an actual physician. This is my favorite part of the hospital visit, because I like being asked questions and I know I’m giving them the right answers.

“Allergies?” “Nope.”
“Do you smoke?” “Nope.”
“Drugs?” “Nope.”
“STD’s?” “Nope.”
“Vegetarian?” “Totes.”

The exact opposite of this is the Dentist, where everything I tell them is either incorrect or a lie.

Just before the nurse left, she told me that the doctor was going to listen to my lungs, so I had to take my shirt off and put on a gown. I have no problem taking my shirt off, but I find the gown (for a man) to be pointless. Why can’t I just sit there shirtless? I’m assuming it’s for the emotional well-being of anyone who has to see me, but I find it far more palatable than having to impossibly navigate a hospital gown. It’s like an MC Escher sketch; no reasonable configuration makes sense.

For the next 20 minutes, I sat there in my gown and mask waiting for the doctor. At one point, another nurse popped in and told me that they “hadn’t forgotten about me.” All I could think about was how there were no other people in the waiting room but myself and Zombie Coalmine Girl; what was the holdup?

Nonetheless, the doctor finally showed up and started listening to my lungs. Whenever a doctor uses their stethoscope on me, I instinctively revert to Manual Breathing Mode and become incredibly hyper-conscious of how I inhale and exhale. I’m certain I always skew the results. She said my lungs “sounded great,” though, and started rubbing around on my temples and oily T-zone.

Does that hurt?” She asked as she was massaging the bridge of my nose.

Um…actually that feels pretty good,” I said, a little too honestly.

It’s a sinus infection,” she said. She prescribed me a “bungload” (medical term) of amoxicillin and sent me on my way. As I was leaving, I could hear Coalmine Girl hacking up a lung in an adjacent room. I shuddered and quickened my pace.

As I write this, it’s Saturday, April 13. It’s been nearly two weeks since I first got sick, and I’m still having all sorts of (thankfully dissipating) symptoms. Either this was one hell of an infection, or I’m getting older and my immune system is becoming weaker to such volatile intrusions. Since turning 31, I’ve sort of declared myself legally dead to the world, so perhaps it’s more of a psychological anti-placebo than anything. All I know for sure is that these pills are the size of water softener pellets and digesting them requires complete disregard of my gag reflex.

I’m lucky, though. If this is the thing that sends me to the hospital, I’ll deal with it. Just a few hours spent watching TLC will remind you that there are millions of people worse off; I could have been born with tree limbs for arms, for Christ’s sake. Or a parasitic twin growing out the base of my spine that does nothing but chain smoke and tell racist jokes all day. Pretty sure I’ve seen both of those.

More than anything, I’m just hoping this will get me out of attending Easter next year.

The Walking Dead Friday – ‘Welcome To The Tombs.’

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Season 3 – Episode 16: ‘Welcome To The Tombs.’

The Season Finale of The Walking Dead Friday is upon us. We have much to discuss.

I know everyone’s going to have their own personal opinion about this episode, and as a viewer, I always attempt to differentiate between what I want as a fan, and what I feel would be good for the show as a whole. With that being said, I wasn’t all that satisfied as a fan, and I’m having a hard time understanding how Sunday’s finale was good for the series as a whole, either.

In my head, it sort of seemed like a cut-and-dry finale that would have satisfied everyone: Rick and the Governor go to war, there are a couple of high-profile deaths, the Governor meets his fate and Rick’s crew are forced to hobble out of the prison and into their next adventure. That’s what we expected, and I also believe it’s what we wanted. The last thing Walking Dead fans want a flashback to is the eternity spent hanging around Hershel’s farm in Season 2.

But yet, here we are. Andrea and Milton are dead, but that’s not going to keep anyone up at night. Rick and company are still at the prison, now with a few dozen more mouths to feed in the form of women and children that will serve them no protection in the event of another invasion. Oh, and the Governor’s still out there, but it’s anyone’s guess if we’ll ever see him again. It was vague, anticlimactic and didn’t excite me one bit for Season 4. In fact, I feel that almost nothing was accomplished here in the grand scheme of things.

Character-wise, Rick’s in a better place (he’s not seeing Lori anymore), and he’s attempting to bring some sort of human domesticity to Carl before he goes completely psychotic, but that doesn’t always make for riveting television. Maggie and Glen are going to get married, Carol and Daryl might get closer as they bond after losing Merle, and Michonne and Tyreese will probably get to know each other better as well (if the comic has any say in it).

But is this what we’re interested in, first and foremost? Not me. I wanted to see justice for a Governor that slowly descended into madness, slaughtered dozens of innocent people and put Rick and company through hell. I wanted to see someone, anyone that had a reason (and there were plenty), inflict some backwoods justice on one of TV’s great bad guys. I wanted to see a change of location. You’d think that at least one of these things would happen, but nothing did.

Not even Andrea’s death was all that surprising. I said last week that her character had fallen so far outside the realm of being accepted back into the good graces of the fans, that nothing short of killing the Governor would save her from dying this week. And I was right, but being right didn’t make the episode any more or less interesting. Sunday’s episode ran five minutes over, and my friends didn’t know that, so they were nervous as 10pm was approaching, afraid that we were going to get some sort of ‘To Be Continued’ ending. I told them not to fear, and that we’d surely get the closure we thought we deserved during the five minute overrun. Nope.

So, what do we do now? Where does Season 4 take us? I’m not sure, but I have a pretty good idea of where it’s going to start: Back at the same prison we hung around in all last season, with no firm resolution in Woodbury and more hypothetical scenarios than actual action. The tension and action that picked up once Rick and company left Hershel’s farm was what made The Walking Dead the most popular show on television (literally). To hit the brakes with such a lackluster final ten minutes seemed like quite a misstep, if only in the short-term.

But shit, what do I know? Maybe the Season 4 premiere will be Rick, Daryl and Michonne sitting around a wooden spool, bringing the fans up to speed on the last few months of storyline:

“Boy, we sure killed the Governor good, didn’t we?”

“Yup, and remember when all those Woodbury refugees just up and disappeared in the middle of the night? That sure helped in regards to our supplies.”

“Absolutely. And remember when we ditched the prison for Woodbury, because they had water and beds and shit?”

I don’t know.

Let’s take this episode behind the shed and put it out of its misery, because it’s time for The Thick And Meaty!

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Despite all the work he put into his snazzy torture chamber, the Governor leaves the murder of Andrea up to Milton for some reason. When Milton refuses, the Governor mortally wounds him, leaving Milton to turn and (presumably) attack Andrea while she’s all tied up and whatnot. Upon leaving, the Governor says, “In this life now, you kill or you die…or you die and you kill,” which is one of the better catchphrases I’ve heard this season.

Meanwhile, Rick and company are preparing for war. In Woodbury, they do the same. Tyreese and Sasha tell the Governor that they’re going to hang back at base camp to protect the women and children (that’s the job I would have volunteered for, too). The Governor, who seems to be slowly losing his patience with anything and everything on Earth, reluctantly agrees.

The Governor and his people storm the prison, using all manner of weapons to decimate the exterior (a rocket launcher?!). Once they get inside, it appears to be abandoned, until they are ambushed by Rick’s crew and hastily flee. And hey, say what you want about the Governor, but he’s not hanging back like a coward; dude is in the front lines, looking to kill people. I admire that in a leader.

A Woodbury teenager encounters Carl and Hershel in the woods while fleeing. Carl asks him to drop his weapon, but then decides to kill him anyway before really seeing what he was going to do. Carl later justifies his actions to Rick by saying that the teen didn’t drop his weapon, a claim that Hershel disputes…but not me. I feel that this was war and the teenager didn’t act quickly enough. Carl had every right to be afraid and defensive. But I understand that they’re trying to drive the plot point that Carl is becoming cold and detached, and Rick needs to create some sort of domesticity so he doesn’t snap completely, so I’ll go with it.

In the chamber, Milton lets Andrea know that he left a pair of pliers behind her chair. Then he totally dies.

Outside of the prison, the Governor orders his convoy to stop. When they almost unanimously express desire to return to Woodbury and leave Rick’s group alone, the Governor goes on a shooting rampage and kills most of them (except for a couple of his right-hand men). Karen plays dead and is spared when the Governor runs out of bullets, and he leaves her behind. This, right here, is the Governor in his purest form. He went from a justifiably bad guy to a complete lunatic in the span of this season, and I think it was a commendable performance by David Morrissey, even if I don’t really want to see him return in Season 4.

Rick asks Carl about the teenager he killed. Carl mentions that Dale, Lori and Merle all died because they didn’t seize the opportunity to kill potential threats when they arose. Point taken, Carl.

Rick, Michonne and Daryl head off to Woodbury to finish the job, when they encounter the massacre the Governor left behind, as well as the surviving Karen. Meanwhile, Milton reanimates and advances on Andrea, who gets bitten just before killing him for realsies. Rick’s group shows up just in time to realize that Andrea isn’t going to make it. Andrea apologizes for her actions, then promptly shoots herself in the head (off-camera).

The episode ends with Rick’s group returning to the prison with a school bus full of the women and children that were huddling at Woodbury (including Tyreese, Sasha and Karen). Carl’s pissed. Oh, and because of all this closure (to Rick at least), he’s no longer seeing visions of Lori.

Smash cut, season over! Now let’s Break It Down!

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1. Regardless of if I thought this was a good episode or not, the ratings were predictably massive, drawing an all-time high of 12.4 million viewers. This makes it not only the most-watched episode of the series to date, but the most-watched drama in the history of cable TV. Every single week, this show is making history in one way or another.

2. This episode was written by the (now departed) showrunner/executive producer Glen Mazzara. Good luck in Season 4, Scott Gimple; expectations for success are more than a little high.

3. AMC sent a press release shortly after the finale to let people know that David Morrissey would be returning as the Governor in Season 4, so don’t expect him to stay M.I.A. for very long.

4. This episode marks the final appearances of both Andrea and Milton, and although Michael Rooker was credited, he was the only main cast member to not appear (cuz’ he’s dead, you know).

5. With Andrea’s death, Carol (of all people) becomes the last surviving female from the original Atlanta group. Furthermore, Andrea’s death also leaves only five members of the original Atlanta group remaining (Rick, Carl, Carol, Daryl and Glenn).

And with that, we’re done with The Walking Dead for Season 3. Sound off in the comments section and enjoy your weekend. The CDP will return shortly with regularly-scheduled essays and pop culture goodness all the way through Spring, so stick around.

The Wild Stallion 5.0.

My first car was a 1986 Buick Somerset (shown above). In 1998 (at age 16) I paid $200 for it with my own money as a bartender (I’ve told this story before). It was massive, it was embarrassing, and as most cars go, it housed some of my most cherished memories. Even when I eventually sold it (for $50), it still worked as perfectly as you could hope for.

The Somerset was unique for its age in that it had a fully digital dashboard. The mileage, speedometer and fuel gauge were all LED displayed, and there was even a button that allowed you to toggle over to metric. I liked switching it when I drove my younger sister around; I’d drive 70 MPH, and it would display 113, which always seemed to terrify her.

Eventually I hit a deer with it (with the Somerset’s hulking front end, it didn’t stand a chance), but as parts for this car were impossible to come by, I had to compromise by zip-tying the headlights into an ill-fitting replacement grill. From that day forward, I couldn’t see anything when I drove after sunset; the tops of the telephone lines and the ditch were plenty illuminated, but that was about it.

That was The Wild Stallion, and like most First Car Relationships, I cherished it.

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Like I said, I eventually had to sell the Somerset and ‘upgrade’ to a 1993 Ford Tempo in 2001. All I really remember about this car is:

1. It had well over 250,000 miles on it before I even turned the key on.
2. Every single thing inside of this car was broken.

Everything. Every light, every knob and every button was faulty. Nothing worked, nothing. I would blow a fuse every time I tried to jury-rig my CD player in there, which led me to keeping a spare hundred or so fuses in the glove compartment.

It never broke down, though. As legend has it, some still see this car rolling around the streets of Winneconne with a Mediocre At Best sticker on the trunk, odometer creeping closer and closer to 1,000,000 miles.

Upon moving to Madison, I purchased ‘The Wild Stallion 3.0’ in 2004, which was a 1997 Escort Wagon. I really quite enjoyed driving a wagon: I’m never one to be too self-conscious about the cars I drive, and it held all my groceries and corpses and whatnot. The only reason I sold it was that my in-laws wanted to sell me their old vehicle at a price I couldn’t refuse (more on that in a second).

The Escort allowed us to move to two different apartments without the assistance (and fees) of professional movers. I strapped the mattress to the roof; the whole nine yards. However, there were some costly repairs that begin to become commonplace, so I had to see it for cheap and start over again. 

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In 2007, I bought a 2002 Mercury Sable that I drove until about two weeks ago. It was roomy, it had Climate Control (and a cassette player!) and a kickass engine.  It belonged to my father-in-law, a auto enthusiast that good very good care of it, and was always kind enough to share knowledge on repairs and certain behaviors. Unfortunately, time was not on the ‘Wild Stallion 4.0’s side, and the amount of repairs and fixes once again became insurmountable.

The Missus determined that we needed a new car. I was leery, not only because cars are sort of expensive, but also because I’ve never purchased a ‘new’ car in my life. I didn’t understand the process and I didn’t know if we could afford one. When the Missus gets an idea in her head, though, it expands with life until it completely transcends argument and logic. By the time she was done with me, it wasn’t so much “How can we afford a new car?” as “How could we afford not to?”

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The Wild Stallion 5.0 is a 2013 Ford C-Max hybrid. It’s astoundingly energy efficient, runs on a combination of gas and electric, and can get nearly 45MPG under normal circumstances. I think it’s purty, but it blends in nicely with society and doesn’t drive or feel like some of the earlier, flimsier hybrids. This car is roomy, heavy and fast.

There are a ton of settings that allow you to monitor how efficiently you’re driving, which is pretty cool, although I have no idea how to change my driving in order to be ‘better’ at it. The Sync system allows for hands-free everything, and to my surprise, it’s actually quite receptive. And even though satellite radio is completely unnecessary, I know I’m going to keep subscribing to it for the all 90’s channel.

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I’ve never driven anything even close to a vehicle like this, and I almost had to re-learn the art of Driving in order to properly manhandle it. There seems to be a whole lot going on at once behind the wheel of this thing, but after an hour or so of tooling around the neighborhood and forgetting to look out the windshield for minutes at a time, I think I’ve got it mostly figured out.

So after 15 years of used relics, I can finally say I have a new car. The wrinkled hand of Fate will probably put me in an accident by the end of the week that throws me back to square one, but that’s a risk I’m going to have to take. The Wild Stallion 5.0 is go.

Sound off in the comments section and enjoy your day. The Walking Dead Friday arrives in less than 48 hours.

The Walking Dead Monday – Caption Edition.

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(“Excuse me, miss? Would you happen to know where…nevermind. Goodbye.”)

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(“You know what? This is fun. I never get to take you out to the park anymore.”)

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(Dale launches into Hour 3 of his story about meeting Adam West.)

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(“Allow me to illustrate our intimate future by tightly clasping my hands together. Got it?”)

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(“ADMIT IT! While the Blue Album was more commercially successful and musically accessible on a Pop level, the themes, songwriting and musicianship of Pinkerton make it the better album in the long run, when you take critical acclaim, personal resonance and genre influence into account. ADMIT IT!!!”)

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(“If we don’t live together, we’re going to die alone. Come on, didn’t any of you losers watch Lost?”)

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(Lori returns from the grave just to tell Rick she’s still having sex with Shane in Hell.)

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(“I should buy a boat.”)

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(Michonne watches in horror as Rick begins to slow dance with a walker.)

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(“You know what I really like about this place, Carol? The fact that my skull has exactly the right number of holes in it.”)

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(The front row of every Mumford and Sons concert.)

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(“Hello? Could you please…AAUGH! It’s Rick Grimes! Get me the hell outta here!”)

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I’m still sort of busy, but things are smoothing out as we speak. I should have something for you on Wednesday, followed by the Season Finale of The Walking Dead Friday to round out the week, kicking off a whole bunch of new essays as we barrel into Spring. Sound off in the comments section and enjoy your day.