A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Oh! My Back!

I try not to complain about any ongoing health problems I may have, unless I can make a compelling narrative out of it. After all, I do have a variety of ailments with which I can bore my readers silly. They include my heart disease, obesity, short stature (really, this should be considered a terminal illness [badum ching!]), my feet, my ankles, my back…bingo!

I’ve known since childhood that I had flat fleet, although I have always thought of myself as normal. (Ooh! Add delusional to my list of ailments above.) I can only imagine what my fellow members of humanity must think of me as they’ve witnessed my daily, fool hardy attempts at ambulation. They must marvel:

First Human: “Look at him! Good lord! He’s got flat fleet, one leg shorter than the other, and his hips are all screwed up!”

Second Human: “And he’s probably delusional, too! Poor devil!”

I know, I know, I was talking about my back, but my feet have a lot to do with this topic. Believe me, if the feet are off kilter, then everything else up the line through the ankle, knee, femur, hip, and back are thrown off too. And thrown off in a very painful way…

My pedal condition meant that I could not purchase shoes off the rack. My parents would take me to a shoe store at the other end of town (i.e., Philadelphia), where they could buy shoes which gave me the proper support my feet needed. The insides of the shoes were built up to ensure maximum support and extreme discomfort. I would complain to my parents that they hurt, but they always responded, “Oh, you’ll be all right, once you break them in.” BTW, this NEVER HAPPENED! The shoes guaranteed maximum support, extreme discomfort, and would resist being broken in for the life of the shoe.

The importance of having proper foot support was not high on my list of concerns 20 years ago. Now, however, as I get older and my hips continue to get more and more misaligned from the rest of my body, I find that the resulting sciatic condition is too unbearable to place low on a list of priorities.

In recent years, my body would send subtle signs that it was time for me to adjust something to alleviate the pain. And by subtle, I mean sudden shooting pains from the hip down to the knee. Popular over-the-counter salves and balms would not work. After a while, I figured out that my body was telling me that it was time to purchase a new pair of shoes, which is what I did a few months ago.

I purchase shoes (EEE wide, removable insoles for placement of a custom orthotic) from Hitchcock Shoes online. I usually buy one pair which lasts me a year, at which point the heel of my left shoe is worn down most unevenly in comparison to the heel on the right shoe. In past years, just replacing the shoes is enough for the sciatica to go away. This didn’t happen this year, which led me to consider replacing my custom orthotic.

For the last 10 years, I have had orthotics made at the nearest Foot Solutions. The last pair was guaranteed to last five years, which I found out was last year when I went to be fitted for a new orthotic this year. The fitting is a unique process - it comprises my standing on a set of round headed pins that conform to the shape (or, in my case, mis-shape) of my feet. This impression is printed on a 3-D computer image and sent somewhere to have some sort of sole carved out of plastic and lined with cloth. 

These orthotics cost four times as much as the shoes, and I suppose they could be covered by my health plan. No, correct that: I suppose they could be applied to the sky high deductible on my health plan, but then I would have to go to my doctor (in-network fee negotiated office charge also applied to deductible) who would refer me to another doctor (who would also have an in-network fee negotiated blah, blah, blah) who might write a script or letter of medical necessity for the insoles which then could be…oh, eff it!

Up to this point, I’ve had to rely on stretching exercises, which are supposed to be performed every day of my life for maximum effect. This does not always happen when it is scheduled to happen before I get out of bed every morning, owing to leg cramps. There’s nothing like a good charley horse in the calf that can make a sciatic condition seem trivial.

I learned these exercises during physical therapy sessions for a previous episode of sciatica several years ago. Oh yes, I suppose I could go to physical therapy again, but I have huge health care debts now due to the laughable excuse of a health plan I have.

Besides, who needs physical therapy when I have my TENS unit. This Transcuteneous Electrical Nerve Stimulator device was also purchased during those previous physical therapy sessions, and paid for by a real health plan which I had at that time. For those not familiar with a TENS unit, this is a machine about the size and shape of those pocket calculators we all carried when we went to high school in the 70s. Ah, the 70s! When we were young, strong and sciatica was nothing more than a famous curse uttered by W.C. Fields. (“Suffering sciatica!”)

Anyway, these units, powered by AA batteries, send small pulses of electricity to the nerves in my back, which generally makes the pain more tolerable and me more tolerable to live with. The unit is adjusted by degrees from 1.0 to I have no idea, although I did crank that puppy up to 47.0 one day recently. 

Some people may swear by the healing powers of marijuana, but sometimes my TENS unit can be just as good as any joint I may have smoked in college.  (Janey, I swear this on a stack of dime bags!)

So now I have everything in place for my sciatic condition to improve. New orthotics and new shoes to support my feet, a TENS unit to alleviate the acute shooting pains, and various over the counter pain medications for further soothing.  So now when humanity sees me approaching they can say to each other:

First Human: “My God! Look at him! He’s got flat feet, one leg shorter than the other, and screwed up hips!”

Second Human: “Yes, I see, and I’ll bet his health insurance sucks too! Poor devil!”

(Thank you for reading. Ah, TENS unit! My precious...”)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Answer Key to: A Mini Vacation in September

I have paid a nice ransom to the Warrior Queen who has released all the words she X’d out in my last blog entry. Here they are in the order of their appearance:



Lake Front



Ommegang Hop House

Fly Creek Cider

New York

Fat Frog

Fly Creek Apple Black Currant

Glimmerglass Queen

Otsego (again)


Lemon Curry?

We had a lovely weekend, but Daddy got eaten by a crazed water buffalo.*

*Based on Jones, Terry and Michael Palin, Dr. Fegg’s Nasty Book of Knowledge, New York: Berkeley Medallion Books, 1976.

(Thanks for xxxxing!)

Sunday, September 21, 2014

A Mini-Vacation in September

Not that I am making excuses for other people’s blogging or non-blogging, but several fans of my wife’s blog have wondered what was up when her weekly dance party posting did not appear as usual on Saturday morning (actually middle of the night) time. Fear not all! Warrior Queen and I went on a short (overnight) road trip to our favorite winery. My spouse will post pictures and invite her readers to guess where we went.

I will play spoiler and spill all the beans here, detailing the highlights of our trip.*

Warrior Queen picked me up from work at 1p Friday afternoon and we proceeded xxxx on 476 to xxxx.  Four hours and a few rest stops to stretch our middle-aged legs later, we arrived at the xxxx Hotel, located at the foot of xxxx Lake in xxxx. A short time to rest in our room overlooking the lake, and we then walked across the parking lot to the hotel restaurant. An appetizer of panko breaded scallops was followed by a bowl of French onion soup (Okay, I know what Spanish onions are, but what’s the difference between French onions and the plain ole white onions in our grocery store?), and a lite dinner of sandwiches and a shared slice of salted caramel crunch cake.  Warrior Queen just had to have a Cosmo, while I savored a pint of xxxx Hops from the local brewery that is slowly taking over the village where we were staying.

Warrior Queen noted that our room looked different from the other rooms we have stayed on previous visits to this hotel. We remembered that the hotel had been renovated during the last few years. The flat screen television was new, and WQ liked the new shower stall as opposed to the old fashioned bath tubs. I thought that the seat situated in a corner of the pre-formed shower stall is a nice touch. Kudos to the American hospitality industry for acknowledging the aging of their baby boomer clientele!

Our room rental came with a breakfast discount, and one ticket for a scenic boat tour of the lake. We planned our morning so that we could return home to our cats in time to feed them evening dinner. (They were given full bowls of dry food to get them through the night.) We would trek to our winery first, return in time for the 11a boat tour, and leave for home.

Thus, 8:45a found us parked at the xxxx Mill, listening to Oscar Levant’s recording of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, as we waited for the store to open. I thought this selection was appropriate since we were, after all, in upstate xxxx. Our road trip music selections consisted of Harry James, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Chicago, and Oscar Levant. No Abba (sigh)!

A few minutes to feed the ducks in the pond behind the store, and we did our wine shopping, which will have to get us through until we can afford to do this trip again (usually 2 years). We bought a case of xxxx Red, a case of xxxx Apple xxxx, and another half case of assorted other reds/whites. (Wines, that is, not communists!).  We also bought several cheeses, sauces and condiments: okay so it’s not strictly a winery. We were in and out of the store in 25 minutes as I had hoped, and we had time to enjoy a dish of ice cream at the mill snack bar, which was a bit adventurous since the weather was cloudy, seasonably cool, and very breezy. 

Back at the hotel, WQ dropped off our room key while I walked to the boat trip office to purchase one more ticket for myself. At first, there was some doubt that the 11a trip would happen, since they need a minimum of 10 passengers to make the trip worthwhile. Fortunately the required ten people did show up with enough interest to purchase tickets ($16, cash only) and the 11a trip went off without a hitch.    

Our hour long tour on the xxxx was relaxing. The waters of xxxx Lake were choppy, but the boat stayed on course and we enjoyed the sights as I sipped a strawberry daiquiri. WQ, being the conscientious chauffeur with a four hour drive ahead of her, opted for a diet soft drink.

Our drive home was uneventful. We had a quick lunch at the local outpost of a Canadian donut chain, and a few other stops to stretch our middle-aged limbs. As planned, we were home by 5p, just in time to feed our girls and beg for their forgiveness for leaving them alone overnight.

Sorry, dear, for ruining your game of “Guess Where We Went” on your blog.

*As edited by Warrior Queen.

(Thank you for reading! Wine anyone?)

Monday, September 15, 2014

Pop Quiz: The Palins vs. Everybody

Submitted for your approval:

You are imbibing at a kegger in Anchorage, Alaska. You’re admiring the local scenery and the host’s mukluk collection, when it happens! Some foolish schlub, who has had one Midnight Sun Arctic Devil too many, decides to pick a fight with the Palin Posse, who are all in attendance. You relax and enjoy the fisticuff entertainment and the running commentary from the crowd.  

At several points during the fight, the matriarch of the clan is allegedly heard to shout, “Do you know who I am?” Someone counters with a crack about this not being a reality hillbilly show, but you can’t resist piling on a remark of your own. You respond by saying:

1.  “Yeah, you’re the vapid airhead that kept John McCain out of the White House!”

2.  “Yeah, you’re the stupid bitch that lost the election for John McCain."

3.  “Yeah, you’re the (insert intelligence challenging characterization here) (insert derogatory noun here) that kept (insert old fogey characterization here) from being president!”

4.  “Yeah, you’re Tina Fey! Can I have your autograph?”

Sorry, no points, no prizes…

(Thank you for reading! Watch for Sarah Palin’s WWE Challenge coming soon to TNT!)