The Longest Shortest Day

It's Friday, December 24, 2010, Christmas Eve is here, and this is the Side. As you may have realized there was no post on Wednesday, which is the first time since I started doing regularly scheduled updates that I missed one without telling y'all in advance. The reason why is an early Christmas miracle.

As I mentioned at the end of last Sunday's post, my dad was in the hospital. Getting some tests done for a shortness of breath. I was keeping up with things and really thought it wouldn't be anything major. So I got up Monday and typed a bit which I've included below and got ready for work. Here's what was going on in West Virginia.

My Dad was feeling like he couldn't get enough air. It would happen in little episodes and he would be fine. I was talking to him on the phone while he was in the hospital and he sounded fine. He's 62 years old. The doctor asked about his diet, and he eats very well. They asked about exercise, and he's been in Karate for over 35 years. They asked about anything that might be stressing him, and he told the doctor "only that my wife beats me", and actually had the doc fooled for a sec. Then the doctor asked about the family history. His father had had five heart attacks starting at age 42 and his mother had had a quadruple heart bypass operation. The doctor looked at him and told him "You can't win." He was going in with a scope to see what was going on in there.

What the doctor found was a 90% blockage of the main artery which surgeons call, no joke, "The Widowmaker". If that artery goes, it will kill you. They found the blockage Monday morning, and Monday afternoon he was in surgery getting a bypass. My brother and I were heading for West Virginia.

Sound like a miracle yet? Keep reading.

The surgery was supposed to take three to seven hours. He was done in three, because the old man of the mountain does everything with freakish superhuman speed. The hospital up there about 30 minutes from his house is a brand new facility with one of the top five heart surgeons on the east coast practicing there. If this had happened two years ago Dad would have had to have been airlifted to Washington, Baltimore, or Winchester, VA about two hours away. He did not have a heart attack so there was no damage to the heart itself. He knew something in his body wasn't right and he had a good doctor who took it seriously.

By the time we got there my father was out of surgery. My stepmother was waiting on us. It was a bit rough seeing Dad in bed with all those tubes coming out of him. He was on a ventilator, which was good because my brother was gassy. Made the ride up a joy, let me tell you. Still, my Dad's color was really good. I was expecting him to look pale, but he wasn't.

The next day was rough for him. He didn't have much of an appetite which caused the pain meds to knock him for a loop. He was pretty out of it, but by the end of the day he was eating a little solid food and taking a few steps. The day after he was still out of it due to not eating enough. That's pretty common after a surgery like that. Still he was walking all the way around the Cardio-Vascular Unit.

The day we were to leave, my brother and I were feeling pretty guilty. Yes, Dad was doing great, but it seemed like such a long road ahead with his recovery. We had to come home for our families, but were both already planning return trips. We went to see Dad and found him shaving and watching TV. His appetite had returned and after a big helping a french toast and some cream of wheat he was able to handle the pain meds much better. His voice was a little weak from having a tube down his throat a couple days earlier, but he was talking, joking, making the occasional threats, and walking two laps around the CVU. It was amazing how much he'd improved.

There's been a lot of prayers for my father. His church family has been remarkable about everything with their support. All his Karate buddies and students past and present have rallied behind him. His old unit has been fully notified. Even the Karate guys that we split from have been online and on the phone asking how he's doing. I'm fully expecting an Imperial Decree to come from Japan instructing dad to "get well soon".

The "old man of the mountain" has touched a lot of people in his life and those people all responded with prayers and well wishes, and those prayers were heard. Its mind boggling how much worse this entire thing could have been. He's actually due to come home either today or tomorrow.

So yes, my family has been truly blessed by a Christmas Miracle. We get to keep Dad here for years to come.

Thank you God, and Amen.

We now return you to our regularly scheduled insanity, already in progress.


Zombies continue to be pretty popular. It used to be there'd be a spike in popularity for them. It was the zombie fad that would come around, hang in for a bit, and then head back to its hidey hole until something came along to spark zombie interest all over again. Then came the popularity war with vampires where the pop cultural mindset would ping back and forth between the two. Now its undead-o-rama.

I've gone off plenty on vampires on here and was tempted to do so again since one of my students who is maybe ten asked if I wanted to read the story she was writing about a "half vampire". I suppressed the urge to scream "NOT YOU TOO!" and simply asked "Which half?" Stephanie Meier has much to answer for.

But back to zombies. The zombie/infected genre has been around for years and years starting of course with The Smurfs. Yes, I'm serious. In 1963, long before George Romero started making zombie flicks there was a story in the old Smurfs comic that started the whole genre. Don't believe me? Well, it got adapted into an episode for the cartoon series.

Fast forward to now and zombies are very popular. There's bunches of movies and books. The AMC TV show THE WALKING DEAD broke a record when it debuted. The show is based on a comic book from Robert Kirkman. Its a very good comic and I have been curious about the TV show since I don't have cable and can't watch it. My curiosity comes more from wondering how close the show is the book. From the few clips I've seen, it looks like it departs quite a bit from the book. The scene I saw showed the survivors getting into the CDC and seeing what happens to the brain of someone who gets infected. That never happened in the comic, but it raised even more questions for me. In the comic, if you die for any reason you come back as a zombie unless your brain was damaged enough to prevent it. In the clip they explained how a bite from the zombie spread the infection like meningitis to the brain killing the host which makes me wonder if the only way to become a zombie in the TV show is to get bitten. Very frustrating.

But with the lack of cable I turn to the internet where there's a fun zombie series on YouTube called Bite Me. I say "fun" in that its pretty goofy and funny, but yes the shambling dead still try to kill and eat you so its not all hugs and puppies.

I do like the zombie stuff although the whole zombie apocalypse thing just wouldn't work. The infected thing would in that there could be something airborne to turn a good chunk of people into a serious threat. But let's look at what would happen if the dead really did start rising.

Scenario: the dead start rising and if they bite you, you become a zombie. These are the traditional slow moving dim-witted zombies, not the cheating fast ones.

Outbreak: the main problem areas would be the cities which would have morgues full of zombies. Graveyards wouldn't be a problem as even if the bodies could still function after being embalmed six feet of dirty should hold them. There would obviously be quite a few springing up in hospitals and at accidents.

Spreading: of course there'll be a few people caught off guard and cornered. Then there's the issue of concerned family members seeing their loved one who are now zombies, don't think and get chomped.

Solution: zombies are really only a threat in large groups and confined spaces. Police and military would have this shut down very quickly. Worst case for having this turned around is about 48 hours.

So the main question in these stories is: what went wrong? How could people have screwed up enough that these things managed to overtake us? There's got to be some catalyst. Something had to have gone horribly wrong for zombies to destroy civilization. I have a zombie "apocalypse" story woven into the continuity of my Night Life series, which one day I'll get around to telling in full. I put the quotes around apocalypse because even with the twists I put in to tip the scales in the zombies' favor I just can't get them to the point where they over take people.


Tis the season!

That's it for today. I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas. For those of you who sent some well- wishes and prayers our way for dad, thank you from the bottom of my black, black heart. See y'all Sunday.

No comments: