Tuesday, December 26, 2006

An Evil Dentist and John Fogerty

See, I'm not dead.

Hello and welcome to another edition of Rob Dow's World. Merry X-Men (thanks Wade) to everybody and stuff.

Yeah, I know this is the longest stretch I've gone without posting since I started this thing, but this is my blog and I'll post whenever I damn well feel like it!

Besides, I'm not getting paid for this... yet.

I spent the past week working (except for Christmas, of course) for the BLM and the week before that laying on the couch watching movies and bad shows on TV. But I wasn't on the couch because I'm lazy. I am lazy, but that's not the reason I was on the couch. The reason I was on the couch was because the right side of my head felt like someone was bashing it repeatedly with the flat side of an iron. While turned on. The iron, not me.

By now, you must be thinking, "Gee Rob, that's terrible. Why on Earth did the side of your head feel that way?"

Well, let me give you a little hint:

See, it all started out innocently enough. I had two wisdom teeth pulled a couple years ago, and Cathy and I figured I should get the other two removed before the end of the year when our dental insurance renews. I called to schedule an appointment and they said they could fit me in that afternoon. The dentist, or should I say the evil Dr. Vincent Vu looked at my teeth and proclaimed that a non-wisdom tooth must also come out, but he can fit me in the next morning. Eighteen hours later, the guy's yanking teeth out of my head.

I had expected the teeth to come out, I just didn't expect it to happen so quickly and painlessly painfully. I swear, this guy enjoys making people hurt. First of all, he didn't give me enough local anesthetic, and second, he didn't give me any nitrous at all. I would have said something, but by the time I realized what was happening, I had this big rubber thing wedged in the left side of my mouth, and all I could do was make pitiful grunting noises.

The first tooth came out easily enough, but apparently he didn't like that. He figured the next one should come out in pieces. Not in one big, easy chunk, but in several small fragments which would necessitate his picking and poking and prodding in the hole in my mouth that used to hold the tooth. All told, he spent about ten minutes on those two teeth, but it seemed like an eternity.

Oh yeah, did I mention there were three teeth coming out?

Well apparently Dr. Vu decided he was really going to outdo himself on the last one. Apparently, he had nothing else to do for the next hour but work on that last tooth. Now when I say work on that one tooth, I don't mean carefully, gently, and gingerly slide it out of its socket. No I mean tug, drill, yank, pry, poke, dig, pull, twist, bend, and jerk that tooth out of my mouth. The guy was using my lower jaw as a fulcrum to try to get leverage, pinching my lip in the process. I swear, he broke a sweat trying to get that thing out. My tooth was giving him a workout!

He kept asking his assistant for different tools, but the two of them had some sort of dentistry code, so I couldn't tell what he was asking for. No, I'd just have to wait and be surprised and find out when it was in my mouth. Hmmm, I think he's using pliers. That one sounds like a drill. This one must be a tire iron. At one point, some lady came in and said his 10:00 appointment was there, but he was still busy working on the little tooth that couldn't. I could feel my other teeth rubbing against each other where I would normally floss if I flossed because my whole jaw was flexing back and forth like the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.

Finally, I heard a "crack." He said, "There we go," and started removing fragments. Eventually it was all over. Dr. Demento left and I asked the assistant if they had the teeth so I could see them, and she said they didn't. They kept my teeth and didn't even leave a quarter under my pillow! The 10:00 lady probably stole them.

So I spent the next week on the couch. I tried to post something on the blog, but the pain pills weren't helping (strangely enough), and I wasn't too thrilled about sitting upright for any semi-lengthy period of time. Next thing I knew, a week had gone by and it was time to go back to work.

Incidentally, today at work I realized that Centerfield by John Fogerty is the worst song ever. I mean, clapping in a song is bad enough, but synthesized clapping is unexcusable. John Fogerty wrote some good songs in CCR, so I don't know what his problem was in the eighties. Oh yeah, it was the eighties.

Plus, the song is about baseball. Playing baseball is amusing, but watching it is tedious at best. Listening to someone else sing about baseball is about as exciting as watching paint dry. Eggshell white paint. Three coats.

Yes, these are the things I think about while working at the BLM. It's a really nice change of pace from tutoring because I can let my mind wander instead of having to concentrate. But alas, it's almost over for now, and soon I'll be back to tutoring and schooling and senatoring and stuff. But at least I'll have weekends off. And I won't have to be there at 7:00 AM like I do tomorrow. Actually, I'm kinda looking forward to it.

On that note, I think I'll wrap things up. We're going to Idaho to see the families soon (I'm not going to say which days we'll be gone in case tweakers are reading this and want to break in and steal our scrap metal), so it may be a while (again) before the next posting. If you don't like that then you write a column and I'll post it (unless it makes me look bad, of course).

See y'all next year!


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The War on Jesus's (Non) Birthday

Greetings and salutations!

I don't like that intro. How about this:

How's it hanging?!

That's no good either. What I need is a regular intro to use every time I post. Any suggestions? If so, leave me a comment.

Ah, who am I kidding, nobody leaves comments anymore. Except for somebody named "Anonymous", and I swear he/she must be schizophrenic because each posting has its own personality. Anywho...

Yesterday, I finished my last final exam for this term- which means that aside from a few days of fill in work for the BLM, I have the next four and a half weeks off! That's right, no school, no tutoring, no ASLCC Senate meetings, no homework, no alarm clocks, no annoying classmates, no crappy LCC cafeteria food, no phones, no lights, no motor cars, nada!

And what am I going to do with all my free time? Spend each day posting on this blog? Yeah, right! Nope, I'm going to sit around and drink beer and watch TV all day, baby, because that's how I roll!

Actually, what I'll probably do is clean the garage (finally!), take the car to the mechanic, go to the dentist, and lots of other terribly exciting things. I could write about that kind of stuff every day, but really, who cares? I barely do.

But I'm going to definitely skip town for a few days with Cathy this weekend provided we find a cat-sitter. We need a few days away.

So, aside from me having some time off from school and work, this time of the year is special for one other thing. It's the phenomenon that starts happening every year right around Thanksgiving, though each year it seems to start earlier and earlier. Am I talking about the Christmas shopping season? Hell no, dummy!

I'm talking about the "Outrage Over the (Supposed) War on Christmas" season!

Now, I have to admit, this year hasn't been as bad as some of the others- yet. The latest from Bill O'Reilly is that he and his audience won the war (for Christmas, not on Christmas, one would assume)...
...Wal-Mart and Macy's and all the big stores are saying, "Merry Christmas," and they've stopped ordering their employees not to say it-- most of them. Best Buy and Crate & Barrel are two that still are ordering their people not to say, "Merry Christmas," which is the worst kind of fascism you could possibly have. They have a right to do it but it's just stupid.
Of course, this ignores the fact that neither "fascist" store has a policy of not allowing their employees to say, "Merry Christmas," and that once again, Bill O'Reilly is completely wrong. But still, we have a war going on and we can't let trivial things like "facts" get in the way of our crusade to save Christmas from the evil left-wing nutbars who want destroy Christmas and our First Amendment, right?

Basically, O'Reilly seems to be "representing" two main groups here. The first group is worried that our society is taking the "Christ" out of Christmas by promoting sayings such as "Happy Holidays" and "Season's Greetings". The second is making this a freedom of speech issue because "if I want to say 'Merry Christmas', then I'm going to say 'Merry Christmas' and nobody is going to stop me, goddamn it!"

First of all, as many people know, Christmas has been around since well before Jesus and actually started as a pagan holiday. Also, it wasn't Jesus's birthday as most scholars believe good old JC was born in either the Spring or Summer, not December 25. However, Jesus and Christmas have become pretty interwoven these days (the day is named after him, for Christ's sake for crying out loud), so the real issue here as far as I'm concerned is that while December 25 has become a Christian holiday, not every American is Christian.

A sidenote: I want to make it perfectly clear that I'm in no way trying to criticize Christianity. While I personally don't consider myself Christian, per se, I'm fascinated by the stories in the Bible and I think Jesus said many really cool things, or at least the modern-day translations of what other people said he said are pretty cool. I also have friends and family members who consider themselves Christian, and I love them and very much respect their beliefs. And I'm not just saying that because they might read this, I promise! What I'm trying to do here is point out the ridiculousness of the whole supposed "War on Christmas". So stick with me here and I might eventually get around to making my point, m'kay?

So if we can agree that Christmas has become a Christian holiday, we can also agree that Christmas has become an American holiday. Since not every American is Christian, wouldn't it make more sense to say something along the lines of "Happy Holidays" if your goal was to try to include everybody? I mean, if President Bush started his State of the Union speech with "Good evening fellow born-again, Protestant, white, male Americans," wouldn't that be a big "F-you" to everybody else who didn't fall into that group?

Of course, the other option would be to inquire which, if any, holiday each person celebrates and greet each of them accordingly. That would get old quickly, and it wouldn't even work at all when referring to a group of people:

Store Clerk: Excuse me sir, but what holiday do you celebrate in December around the time of the winter solstice?

Custormer: Well, I celebrate Christmas.

Store Clerk: Very well, then have a Merry Christmas. Also, please don't look at our store decorations on the north, east, or south walls. Only look at the west wall decorations.

Customer: Why?

Store Clerk: The north wall is for Jews who celebrate Hanukkah, the east wall is for African-Americans who celebrate Kwanzaa, and the south wall is tailored to people who celebrate Yalda, Saturnalia, Karachun, dōng zhì, Yule, Rohatsu, Ásatrúar, Decemberween, and/or Festivus. Don't look at those decorations because we don't want to offend you by acknowledging the existance of other cultures and beliefs yet we still want their business, too.

Customer: Hey, how come dōng zhì gets to be on the south wall?

Store Clerk: Just be happy your holiday didn't have to share its wall with others.

Saying "Happy Holidays" or "Season's Greetings" shouldn't be seen as anti-Christmas because it implies that Christmas is included. However, saying "Merry Christmas" leaves out Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and those other "nutty" holidays. So if I owned a store, I'd be wanting to be as welcoming to as many customers as possible.

Besides, if we were going to acknowledge all of these holidays individually, we'd have to do a modicum of research on each of them. I mean, we're Americans, we don't have time for that kind of crap!

And then there's the second group that cites the right to free speech found in the first Amendment as the main reason they should able to say "Merry Christmas" (nevermind that the amendment protects all religions, even the "weird" ones). They blame "political correctness" that supposedly prevents them from speaking freely.

My question is this: "Why does political correctness always get such a bad rap?"

I fail to see the problem with taking other people's feelings into consideration when we speak. We do it all the time. Sure, I'm legally free to walk up to an overweight person and say, "Why don't you go on a diet, fatty!" The Constitution also permits me to ask a legless, wheelchair-bound man if he wants to play kickball. I'm even technically protected by the first Amendment to ask the slow cashier at the store if her parents were siblings (though she'd most likely get fired if she appropriately told me where to go).

But I don't say these things, not because I'm worried about not being politically correct, but because I try to be respectful of others. And that's basically what being politically correct is all about: being respectful. Admittedly, sometimes we go overboard with our political correctness. That's why it has such a negative connotation. However, saying "Happy Holidays" is not going overboard. It's being respectful and (gasp) tolerant of all cultures and beliefs, religious or otherwise. Still, according to some people, we just can't have that.

Because let's be honest, most people don't want to hear a "journalist" tell them that other people have the right to celebrate whatever holiday they want, and that we should all try to respect that. No, people want to be told their belief is the only legitimate belief, that everyone else is a nutcase, and that any acknowledgement or celebration of another belief is a threat. Xenophobia = ratings, baby!

The sad thing is that as of today, close to 3,000 American soldiers are dead and over 22,000 have been injured in the Iraq War. Who knows how many tens of thousands of civilians are dead, too. And when you think of that, it kinda makes this whole War on Christmas issue a non-issue.

If this stuff gets you down, don't worry. Boxing Day will be here before you know it!

On that note, I think I'll wrap things up for the day. Although I'm undecided on my intro, I think I've got my closer down:

Don't let your meat loaf,


Saturday, December 02, 2006

Free Advice and Viewer Mail!

Hey everybody!

Welcome to another edition of Rob's blog, where you're sure to find lots of interesting, pertinent information, free of charge!

(Note: I may one day resort to placing advertising on this blog. But as it stands right now, there aren't enough viewers for me to get a cut of the revenue- yet. If I don't get paid, nobody gets paid!)

Speaking of pertinent information, I've got some advice for all both of my loyal readers.

Now, I'm not one to go around spouting off advice left and right like some smug, self-important, know-it-all just to make it look like I'm smarter than you. However, this little gem that I'm about to bestow upon you is a can't-miss, sure-fire piece of advice that would work wonders for anybody!

So here goes. Are you ready? If not, you better get ready because here it comes! My advice is this:

Don't get sick.

Isn't that the best advice ever? I think so. Getting sick sucks. And I should have taken my own advice because I myself am now sick. It's no picnic, that's for sure. More like a sick-nic!

Now I'm sure many both of you readers are thinking, "That 'sick-nic' pun was the corniest thing I've ever read. Rob ought to be drawn and quartered for that." Well, you're right (except for that drawn and quartered thing- man, you guys are violent). But this is what being sick does to a person. So don't get sick.

Despite the fact that I'm practically on my deathbed, I'm going to press on with this posting. I'm doing this for you, the viewer. And if my writings continue to be corny, well, let that be a lesson to you: don't get sick.

So now that I've passed on my sage advice, I feel it's an appropriate time to answer some mail that I've gotten from all both of my readers and maybe offer some more sage advice. So without any further ado, let's open the mailbag!

The first letter comes from Jim Bob Purdy from Bald Knob, Arkansas. Jim Bob writes:

Dear Rob,

I was kinda hopin' you could help my sitsheation down here. It seems that my woman friend has taken a likin' to workin' out at that newfangled Gold's Gym they put in across the street from Applebee's. You see, I ain't got no problem with her workin' out on account it's been makin' her tougher than a two dollar steak. In fact, I kinda like it 'cause it makes things a bit more "physical" in the bedroom, if you catch my drift. The only problem is that she doesn't shower after she works out, so she comes home smelling like a turd that came out of a dead skunk's cornhole. What should I do?

Sign me,
Hankerin' for Fresh Air

P.S. Please don't use my real name. My woman friend reads your blog, too.

My response:

Oops, it looks I already revealed your real name, Jim Bob Purdy from Bald Knob, Arkansas. Sorry.

About your smelly problem, I "reckon" the solution is fairly simple. The next time she goes to the gym, head on over to your local Home Depot or Lowe's (there's probably one near the Applebee's) and pick up one of those Northstar Gas Powered Pressure Washers with the 24 HP Honda GX670 OHV V-Twin engine. Attach the soap nozzle, fill the Downstream Soap Injector with your favorite liquid detergent, hide in the bushes until she gets home, and then spray her down! You also get an added bonus: chicks love getting sprayed by cold, pressurized water, especially if they're wearing white t-shirts! Good luck, Jim Bob, and don't forget to take pictures so I can post them on the blog!

Our next letter comes from Brittney Hoogerhyde of Mianus, Connecticut. Brittney writes:

Hey Rob,

Like, since you're such an expert on pop culture and stuff, I totally thought that you'd be the perfect person to talk to about this. You know the show "Gilmore Girls"? I totally love that show. Like, I neve miss any of the new episodes on CW or any of the reruns on ABC Family. I also totally have all the DVDs and I watch those when the show isn't on TV. Oh, I'm also the vice president of the Rory and Lorelai fanclub and I tried to start a petition to get Jess' spinoff show "Windward Circle" on the air, but like, it didn't work. If I could have any wish come true, it would be to be Rory's best friend on the show. Like I wouldn't be Lane or anything, I'd just be me. And it wouldn't be a TV show, it would be real. Anyways, some people think I'm like totally obsessive about all this. What do you think?

Brittney Hoogerhyde

My response:

OMG! I so can't believe Lorelai and Christopher got married! Like, she totally loves Luke and he totally loves her and they should've totally gotten married! What were they thinking?

Our next letter comes from Cathy in Eugene, OR. Cathy writes:

Honey, stop fooling around on the computer. You're wasting your life away.


My response:

Well, that wraps up another episode of Rob's blog. Before I go, I've got one more piece of free advice:

Be excellent to each other.