Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Inventing new uses for words

Pronunciation: \ˈbev-rij, ˈbe-və-\
Function: verb?

On the way in to the office this morning, I had WTOP on the radio. They were speaking with a DC cop about Georgetown's Halloween festivities scheduled for this evening. The cop said that the city would have 300 officers around Georgetown to "assist the public", "ensure nobody stumbled into the streets" and "make sure nobody gets 'over-beveraged'".

"Over-beveraged" might be my new favorite term.

"No, officer, I'm not shitfaced. I'm just a bit over-beveraged! If you allow me a few minutes to find a restroom and a Starbucks, I'll de-beverage, re-beverage with some coffee, and go on about my night. Thanks!".

Friday, October 26, 2007

Really, now? You don't say.

Pa. Coroner Says Homicide in Beating

ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) - The death of a college student found severely beaten on a street in Pennsylvania Dutch country has been ruled a homicide..."

I'll sleep better at night safe in the knowledge that suicide by self-beating isn't on the rise in Pennsylvania. At least...not yet...

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

What are you doing to me, C3-C4? I thought we were friends?!

Monday I had the distinct displeasure of having my XXL-sized body squeezed into the drinking-straw-sized device they call an MRI machine. Being mildly claustrophobic, it was not an enjoyable 20 minute ordeal. Luckily, they only inserted me from head to waist. Had I had to endure a full-body encapsulation, I'd have needed tranqs.

I just heard from the doc with the results. Word on the street is that I have a "small herniation" of the C3-C4 disk. Actually, he said I have *two* herniations. One at C3-C4 and one somewhere lower (he wasn't specific), but he thinks C3-C4 is the one causing me discomfort.

I asked him what the next step was. He said for more severe herniations, we start talking about surgery at this point. However, with the size of mine, and the fact that my symptoms seem to be subsiding (slowly), we were best off taking a wait-and-see approach. Apparently, herniations never "fix" themselves. The symptoms may go away fully, but once you're herniated, you're herniated till you opt for surgery to smush the disk back where it belongs.

I asked what I should and shouldn't be doing physically at this point. He said tackle football was out (I can manage that...I've avoided it for 20 years now), and he said that "getting in a car accident would be really bad now". Check. I'll put that on my "stuff not to do" list, too. When I specifically asked about mountain biking, he said that I should be able to start again. But that I should "avoid head-on collisions". Thanks doc. Master of the obvious. That's why you get paid the big bucks.

So (thankfully), it's time to get back on the bike. I'm gonna take things gingerly at first, I think. The Bliss is just a few weeks away. Gotta determine if I'll be riding it, or driving around the park strategically placing myself (and my camera) at peak action-shot locations.

While I had the doc on the phone, I took the opportunity to explain that I was going to have to start traveling (flying) more for (wedding photography) work. I asked if he could prescribe me some Xanax to keep me sane at 30k feet. Thankfully, he obliged. Ye ole medicine cabinet is getting crowded these days!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

*ouch* vagina hurts.

Lately, I've taken to buying bridal magazines. Mainly the localized versions of national rags: most recently, The Knot and I Do For Brides ("For Brides" and bigass hairy dudes with expensive camera gear, apparently. Guess that last bit wouldn't fit on the magazine header).

I'm avoiding the big-name fashion mags (Glamor Wedding, Vogue Wedding, Ranger Rick Wedding, etc) mainly because I don't give a shit what $4M will buy you in a "Hollywood Fairytale Wedding"™. I want to stay in touch with what's new/hit/hot/happening/popular (and most importantly, perhaps: selling) in local weddings. As some of you know, a friend, Ben and I have started working towards breaking into the wedding photography biz. The way I see it, these magazines are business-research tools, not just some creepy old guy buying girly magazines.

Thankfully, it looks like things are beginning to get interesting. Ben and I (mostly Ben) have apparently managed to book our first destination wedding (woot!). We've been booked to go to Cancun, Mexico in a few weeks. We don't have the tickets in hand yet, but we met with the bride and groom. And they seemed to like our work enough to sign a contract. I'm cautiously optimistic, but trying very hard not to get ahead of myself. Once the tickets are in-hand, I'll probably move to full-on giddy. It's supposed to be a three day affair; leaving town Friday, returning Sunday. We're hoping that this will lead to future destination weddings. Ya see, destination weddings tend to be a catch-22: Nobody will hire you to do destination weddings, until you've done destination weddings. But you can't do a destination wedding until somebody hires you to do one, which nobody will do if you haven't done one before. See what I mean? Hopefully this will be our foot in the door of the destination wedding world. And an added bonus is that the couple getting married is young (~23ish) and are the first of their group of friends to get hitched. If we do this, and do it well, we may have the beginnings of a wedding empire on our hands.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Dear Doctor's Office,

If you have 99 employees who speak English as a second language, and one who speaks it natively, pretty please, let the native speaker do the calling to update patients on their conditions. Case in point:

Scene opens: Casa du Rant, afternoon.

[Ring ring, ring ring]

Me: Hello?

Very heavily accented nurse: "Mister [first name]? Mister [last name]? Mister [first namd last name]?"

Me: "Uh, yeah, I'm [first name last name]."

Nurse: "I'm [unintelligible] nurse from doctor [Smith's] office. Doctor read your X-rays and they are remarkable."

Me: "Remarkable?! Really? How so? Remarkable good? Remarkable bad? What do you mean by "remarkable"??"

Nurse: "Yes, remarkable. They look...normal".

Me: "They look *normal*? So they are UN-remarkable. Is that what you mean?"

Nurse: "Yes, everything look fine. Unremarkable"

Me: "So everything looks OK? The x-rays look normal?"

Nurse: "Yes. Normal,"

Me (thinking): Jesus fucking Christ, lady. You might want to be careful where you insert and omit random "Un"s. Innocuous enough for me, but I'd hate to be the guy waiting to hear how my cancer treatments are going and get the "your cancer treatment is remarkable" line. Especially if it ain't.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


So I guess the doc saw something he didn't like in my neck/back x-rays last week. I got home from work yesterday to find a prescription for an MRI in my mailbox. At least I think that's what it is. I can't say for sure, having never seen one before. The bad news: Doc didn't even wait to see if the Prednisone and Vicodin cocktail he prescribed me had any effect. The good news: at least he didn't send the paramedics to round me up.

It would have been nice of him to call and mention that something was up, and that an MRI was in my (immediate) future, instead of blindsiding me. I've got a call into his office for an explanation. Hopefully more news today. Wish me luck.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

I can't be the only one...

...who rocks out while doing domestic chores. Can I? I mean, I do this shit all the time. Like tonight..

After returning home from a work happy hour (which might explain the rest of this post), I'm doing the 3-week-old dishes which have lived in the sink since my wife headed back to SF to finish up her work training, when I happen across some old Queensryche (Take Hold of the Flame) on the cable TV "Arena Rock" music stations.

After that ends, it move into some old KISS.

Beyond that is some lame ass something, so I hit the remote and change to the "Heavy Metal" station where I find Rammstein doing "Du Hast", which I never particularly liked, but sounds quite good in my current state.

The last time I cleaned the bathrooms ("inside", for my long-time readers), I did so with Tool cranking full-blast on my MP3 player.

I can't be the only one.

(BTW: If you think this post is random, just wait till later when the Vicodin kick in ;)

(PS...Baby, if you're reading this, the part about the three-week-old dishes is what's called taking "creative license". They didn't exist. They were like 1 day old. Promise.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Wedding 2.0

Ben and I had the opportunity to shoot our second RasmussenPhoto team-effort wedding two Fridays back. A few months ago, a friend from work asked us if we'd be interested in shooting his wedding. Still in portfolio-building mode, we jumped at the opportunity.

The ceremony and reception were held at a hotel?...conference center? I dunno. Whatever it was, it was 12 stories up, overlooking the USMC Iwo Jima memorial and Washington DC. A fantastic location with a rooftop deck.

The day started out with us shooting the prep at the hotel. After that, we moved to the ceremony/reception place and shot the meeting of the bride and groom (they decided to see each other just before the ceremony. It was a very private moment and very cool to be there to capture it so the families could share the moment later.

After the meeting, Ben handled most of the formal, posed shots. I don't remember where I was, but I'm certain I was doing something uber-important. Probably saving small children from certain death in traffic or something. Anyway, next came the ceremony itself. We were positioned facing out the floor-to-ceiling windows, overlooking DC. It made for some challenging lighting (severe backlight), but I think I managed to push the flash up enough to compensate.

Almost immediately after the ceremony came the reception. Same fantastic location, less ambient light! I had rented an extra-bright lens (f/1.2) so I was able to get some decent shots despite the dim conditions.

Below are a few of the shots I've processed. I'm not crazy about the way you link to photos in flickr. Click on the images to see the full-sized versions. They look significantly better than these shrunken ones.

Pill diet

I wrote most of this in a comment yesterday, but I figured I'd post it here as an update...

So I just got back from the docs [noon, yesterday]. His diagnosis was right in line with mine (hey! he must read Wikipedia too!). Probably not a fully-herniated disk, but an irritated/swollen/protruding one that's pissing-off a nearby nerve. I got some Hydrocodone+Acetaminophen (AKA Vicodin. Yay narcotics!) and some steroid anti-inflammatory stuff. Supposed to use both for the next 9 days and see where things stand. The doc took a bunch of x-rays, too. He should have the results from them by the end of the week and get back to me if he sees anything scary. If he does, then we'll alter plans at that point.

The Hydrocodone is magically-good. Pop two of those babies and the back and arm pain are quashed for hours (while the warm-tingly-I-really-shouldn't-be-driving-like-this feeling takes over my body). It's a nice change over the last ~10 days. I was finally able to get a good, uninterrupted sleep last night, laying (lying? I never could conjugate that verb) in whatever position I wanted. For the entire week+ prior, I could only lay in one position, on my left side, arms crossed in front of me. If I'd try to roll over in my sleep in the middle of the night, I was jolted awake by the pain. No more with Mr Hydrocodone. Thank you modern medicine!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Pills for Breakfast*

So I've devoured 40 Allieve pills in the last ~36 hours. And that's in addition to all the Tylenol, Advil, Dones and Mydol. (Hey, I was desperate at this point. Seriously, I'd have licked a toad if somebody would have told me it had pain killing properties).

Last Sunday morning (8 days past), I managed to turn/twist/stretch and felt something in my upper back go *crunch*. Its been constant pain ever since. From my research on Wikipedia and the rest of the internets (why do we even have doctors anymore? Oh yeah...meds), I'm thinking I caught a Cervical disc herniation. This is pressing on a nerve, which is quite pissed off about the whole situation. My symptoms (constant upper back pain, constant left-arm pain (tricep/underside), on-and-off numbness in the pinky-side of the left hand, constant weakness in the left hand) seem to line up with a herniation in the C7 - T1 region of the spine.

So I broke down and called the ol' doc. Just to get a second opinion (and hopefully some high-octane pills that will stop the pain. The dozens of over-the-counter ones I've taken over the last week have done little to dull the constant throb.

The good news is that these things tend to clear up on their own. The bad news is that (according to one web site), the clearing up could take from 6 to 12 weeks. Too effing long. I haven't had a decent nights sleep in a week. I'm up every 2-3 hours groping in the dark for my magic pills. I can't imagine what kinda condition I'll be after five more weeks of this. Aside from that, the calendar is packed with upcoming "to do" things. Wedding shoots. Soccer game shoots. Bootlegger's Bliss mountain bike ride/beer tasting/photo op. Bad Religion show. Of all the weeks for the back to ask for some time off, this was the least opportune. Jerk.

*Title lifted from the FAITH NO MORE song from the album We Care a Lot © 1985.