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Advice Minnesota People politics WTF?

What’s Happening to Our Nation?

July 8, 2016
If you're like me, you're probably wondering what's happening to our nation? Yesterday, following the killing of Philando Castile, I was moved to go to the protest at the Governor's mansion in St. Paul.

If you’re like me, you’re probably wondering what’s happening to our nation? Yesterday, following the killing of Philando Castile, I was moved to go to the protest at the Governor’s mansion in St. Paul. I’ve wanted to write about this issue for a long time, but have never known what to say. Witnessing the peaceful protest at the Governor’s mansion didn’t help me much. For the last two days, the internet has erupted with outrage over yet another (and another) black life cut short by a cop. And rightfully so. I’ve wanted to write about this, but I’ve been afraid to. I won’t bother addressing those fears here, they’re not irrelevant, but they don’t move the conversation forward. I probably wouldn’t have written about the protest for Philando if it hadn’t been for the events that followed later in Dallas.

What’s Happening to Our Nation?

Following the killing of  Philando Castile, which immediately followed the killing of Alton Sterling, social media lit up with all kinds of angry pronouncements about how white people can “help”. Helpful memes were created to unintentionally enflame race relations. White people proudly displayed their “white privilege” guilt as if it were a badge of honor. White people, some of us, became woke. Instead of simply coming together to mourn the lost lives, the injustice and the loss of what was left of our innocence, white people seem to be trying to gain the most points by proclaiming their privileged guilt. But there are no solutions in that.

I hate the term “white privilege”, mostly because I don’t believe the word privilege is an accurate description of the idea that is being put forth. I get it, I get the meaning of the phrase and I wholeheartedly agree it is a real thing. I also hate the term because it immediately shuts down any meaningful discussion about the problems we face. If we can’t discuss the issues, we certainly can’t solve them.

Think Differently?

We used to be able to hold differing opinions. Now, we must all be in agreement. If not, the internet reaction is swift and mighty. Don’t agree with me? Then you must be a racist.

As a white, middle aged, woman I never worry about being pulled over in my little SUV crossover while rocking out to the softer sides of the 80s. Even when I go above the speed limit by 5 or 6 mph, I know the odds are good I will not get pulled over. Broken taillight? I’ve never been pulled over for one, though I have had many. I don’t worry about being followed in department stores because the clerk is worried I will shoplift. And I certainly never worry about being shot dead by a police officer.

But privilege to me, has always meant something that was earned and that could be also taken away. I did not earn my whiteness and I cannot remove it. In these times, because I really do want to help make things better, my whiteness has become a burden. And yet, there are still so many things I take for granted because I am white.

I understand that.

Hands are Tied

I keep starting each paragraph with a story that exemplifies what I am trying to convey. And then I remember, sharing those stories is another way not to help. The thing is, it is a way to connect. And we need to connect more with one another if we want to change the way things currently are. I’ve been told over and over what not to do, as a white person, these past few days. I want to help be the change, I want things to be better for everyone in this great country of ours, I want equality for all. And yet I know that simply wanting something to happen rarely makes it happen. Action must be taken.

Philando Castile Protest

Privilege

The reason I was not compelled to write about my visit to the Governor’s Mansion was because I saw privilege at that protest. Not white privilege, but American privilege. There were a few hundred people at the protest. People of all color, age, gender, sexuality, and political persuasion. People were there with their children and their pets. Neighbors welcomed the protestors into their neighborhood with tables of bottled water, granola bars and even opened the doors of their churches for people to use the bathroom and get out of the heat. The police were there in large numbers. They were protecting the proetestors’ right to assert their first amendment rights even if the words they were speaking were against the police officers. There was no fear at this protest. People were calm, they were not worried that someone might start shooting at the crowd.

Philando Castile Protest

A similar protest took place in Dallas later that evening. It too was a peaceful protest, until it wasn’t. Someone did the unimaginable and started picking off cop after cop. 5 dead, 6 wounded at last count. And the cops continued to protect those that were protesting while getting shot.

Be the Change You Wish To See in the World

Frustrated, I don’t know how to change things. I do know I have no control over a cop and how he handles himself. I also have no control over a shooter who wants to kill as many cops as he can before he gets shot dead. I only have control over the way I react to these things.

Even though I don’t know how to change the nation, I still want to try. I do know that it starts with community, something that has changed so drastically in the last couple of decades. And I’m not even sure we can put that genie back in the bottle. But, I know this – spewing rhetoric on social media is not “community”. Sure, we may be surrounded by like minded people, but those aren’t the people who live on our block.

Unplug to Reconnect

I’m going to spend less time online in the coming months. That isolation and anonymity doesn’t do anyone any good. I want to have these important conversations, but I want to do so with people in real life. I want to discuss these issues with members of my community instead of on some Facebook thread of someone who lives three states away. I know I can’t solve this problem on my own, and I know I won’t change the world, but I can make a difference in my own community if I get out and get to know my neighbors.

We fear what we don’t know, so let’s get out there and get to know each other so we stop fearing each other.

What We Can Do

National Night Out is next month. If you haven’t already, start planning a block party.

Unplug from the internet. Get out and get to know your neighbors.

When online, don’t read the comments.

Think before you react or leave a comment.

Be kind.

Treat others the way you would like them to treat you.

 

 

Advice politics Things that piss me off

The Trouble With The Republicans

February 12, 2016
the trouble with Republicans, Republican symbol, Elephant with flag

The trouble with the Republicans is – OMG there are so many problems with the Republicans, and Donald Trump isn’t the worst of them. I’m not a political expert. For the most part I don’t really know what they are talking about a lot of the time. I believe I pay more attention to politics than the average American but my grasp of foreign policy and economics are severely lacking. I worry that I am a low information voter. And yet I’ve watched enough of this campaign to believe that I can actually offer some insight into winning if anyone is interested. The problem with the Republicans is that they take themselves way too seriously and they have no understanding of public relations. They’re wasting so much time preaching to the choir about issues that are irrelevant when it comes right down to it.

But, I’m getting ahead of myself.

The Trouble With The Republicans

Donald Trump

Let’s start with Donald Trump… While he may not actually be a conservative, he’s certainly stirring the party up. Currently he’s way ahead of the rest of the pack in the polls. I’m not the only one who thought he’d be out of the race by August, and yet here he is going stronger than ever. I’m still not even considering giving him my vote, but I do love that he is shaking up the party and the process. He’s going to ensure that another Bush does not occupy the Oval Office and for that I am grateful. I am a little saddened that he’s been given so much attention and because of that some of the really decent candidates have quit. I’m mostly talking about Rand Paul. Other than that, I’m enjoying the panic and anxiety he’s causing to the party and the other candidates on both sides of the campaign. The RNC can’t control Trump, and that is how it should be. It’s just too bad that you have to be a billionaire to consider a run for office of the President of the United States.

Republicans are Namby Pamby

I’ve spent a fair amount of time watching the debates, and so far not one of them has come up with an interesting or original idea. They are towing the same conservative line – blah blah blah defund abortion, blah blah blah repeal Obamacare, blah blah blah Ronald Reagan…etc, etc, ad nauseam. I want to know how they are going to get people who have left the job market back into it. I want to know how they are going to fix our broken public school system. I want to know if they really understand why affordable health insurance is such a clusterfuck in this country. We have a race problem in this country and so far only Rand Paul was willing to address it. I get it, it’s a scary thing to discuss, especially for a bunch of middle aged white guys, but it seriously needs to happen. And while I know this will never happen, I’d really love to hear one of them say “Hey, that was a good idea that  my opponent had, let’s see if we can’t explore it and implement it because it could help a lot of people.”

Republicans have a PR Problem

The Republican candidates are great at talking about reducing welfare or defunding Planned Parenthood. The problem they have is they never give reasonable explanations for why those might be good ideas. They have allowed the left to define them on issues such as minimum wage and welfare reform. Because they have allowed the left to define them they come off sounding like bigots and misogynists. I’d like to see one of them talk about the difference between a hand out and a hand up, and then work really hard at offering that hand up to those in need.

Pandering

All politicians pander, that’s not news. I’d just really like it if someone didn’t. Trump and Sanders come closest to not pandering to the voters, but that’s only because they haven’t practiced it enough like the rest of the candidates. As the race gets tighter both of them are now beginning to promise things that even they look like they’d have to hold their nose to accomplish. Thankfully, most campaign promises never come to fruition.

Boring

The campaign is boring. So far the most exciting thing about the Republican campaign has been Donald Trump calling Cruz a ‘pussy’ and the fact that Cruz hired a soft core porn star to be in one of his commercials.

Hypocrisy

And then they fired her. They fired her because she had a job for which they didn’t approve. The Republicans are all about pulling yourself up by your bootstraps and working for a living – except if it gives them a hard on. You’d think the Republicans were all celibate based on their fear of sex. If the Republicans want to win Presidential elections they’re going to have to stop obsessing about everyone else’s sex lives, and just get on with worrying about their own business. I believe if they could just do that one thing, they’d be an unstoppable force.

Next week – The Trouble with the Democrats.

 

Advice Reviews Things I Really Like

Best Valentine’s Day Present

January 22, 2016
Valentine's Day gift ideas

Over the past several years I’ve been writing this funny little blog I’ve talked a few times about what not to get someone for various holidays. I’ve talked about the worst gifts you could give (because I’ve received them) but I’ve never written a post about the best Valentine’s Day gifts to give before. I’ve written about the worst Mother’s Day gifts, the worst Christmas present ever and the worst Valentine’s Day gifts. In most of those posts I caution anyone who is looking to give a heartfelt gift to steer clear of appliances, especially those that assist with household chores.

Today, I take that all back.

If you’re looking to give the perfect gift to your aunt, your wife, you mother, your daughter, your father your brother, your boyfriend or girlfriend – whoever you want to present with a gift, then consider getting them a Dyson.

Yes, I’m suggesting buying your loved one, your Valentine, a vacuum.

When I wrote those other posts I had never used a Dyson. Now, after all these years, I have.

The Dyson is such a superior product I don’t even know how to articulate it.

I’ve had so many crappy vacuums over the years (they’re all crappy compared to the Dyson) and I’ve had some pretty decent ones (Oreck). None of them even come close to the Dyson.

I have two dogs, two cats, two children and two parakeets. My house smells like dog butt and there is hair EVERYWHERE.

Not anymore.

Last week I got a Dyson from QVC (easy pay rules!). This thing is so amazingly wonderful I feel like Monica about taking care of my vacuum.

(OMG that looks like an old Dyson!!)

Now that I have vacuumed my house with a Dyson, my house no longer smells like dog butt, I don’t have cobwebs, I don’t have dust bunnies, I don’t have cat hair everywhere.

This superior vacuum makes me want to make my house worthy of its service. I am compelled to paint the walls, fix the stairs, and upgrade the electric service now that I have this wonderful machine.

Why didn’t anyone every tell me how wonderful this machine was?

Get your loved one a Dyson for their birthday, Valentine’s Day, Christmas, Hanukah, Mother’s Day or Father’s Day. Get them this wonderful appliance and turn their life around!

Get them chocolate and wine too, just in case.

 

Advice Dumb Shit I Do WTF?

I’ve Become A Prepper!

July 17, 2015
Go Bag Contents, prepper

I don’t prepare for anything, my whole life I’ve winged it but as of yesterday I’ve become a prepper!

What is a prepper you ask? It’s apparently people who are just a tad less crazy than the Ted Kazinskis of the world. A prepper is someone who is prepared for the end of the world or at least the demise of civility when our infrastructure goes down due to incompetence or terrorists.

Noun — a person who believes a catastrophic disaster or emergency is likely to occur in the future and makes active preparations for it, typically by stockpiling food, ammunition, and other supplies.

Last week the NYSE was suspended due to a computer glitch, United Airlines grounded all flights also due to a technical glitch and while no one in the US paid much attention both the Greek and Chinese economies were in free fall.

That’s the kind of shit they make movies about. In fact they did, it was called Live Free or Die Hard and starred Bruce Willis and a bunch of other people. The gist of the movie is that with just a few lines of code a hacker could basically render our country frozen because we rely so heavily on computers for our infrastructure. Our electrical grid, gas lines, water supply, and communications can be disrupted easily and when that happens it takes about three days for civilization to cease to exist.

After about three days most of food that is in your fridge will spoil so after that you’re eating canned food or fresh food. With food in short demand you have to either kill your own or start to scavenge for it. I don’t care what William Devane say – when the shit hits the fan all that gold you’ve been buying will be worthless. If you want to survive in a post apocalyptic world you’re going to have to know a few basic skills like how to find water, how to find or kill food and you’re going to have to know how to protect yourself from the people who aren’t prepared and want to take the shit you prepared from you.

I watch The Walking Dead and I know exactly what it takes to survive when the world goes to shit. So, I ordered a Go Bag online and some of those envelopes of dried food and figured we’re good at least for a few days. Hopefully when the apocalypse happen I’ll have a full tank of gas and will have charged everything.

My daughter is not happy about my becoming a prepper – and I use that word loosely. Preppers to me are like the characters played by Reba McEntire and Michael Gross in Tremors. Those were people worthy of the prepper moniker. I have no guns, not even a flare gun. I have a multi tool thing with a cork screw so basically if there’s wine to be opened I’m your man.

Getting back to the kid – she isn’t happy about this. She thinks by preparing for bad stuff that it makes it more likely to happen. I felt the same way when I was a kid so I get it and tell her the stuff is for camping. It’s got a shelf life of two years so if the apocalypse doesn’t happen by 2017 we’re going to camping for a couple of weeks.

I haven’t tried any of the dried packages of food, though I have looked at the nutritional information. Basically if you have a nut allergy, you’re screwed when the apocalypse happens. And the daughter has a nut allergy so in addition to stocking up on food, water and gear now I have to start hoarding benadryl and epi pens.

They make gluten free survival food but not nut free?

 

 

Advice Sex

How to Incorporate Fifty Shades of Grey into Your Sex Life

February 18, 2015

If you’re among the hundreds of millions who have seen or read Fifty Shades of Grey, you’re probably left with one burning question: how do I get my sex life to look more like that?

As Elite Daily reports, those living in NYC or LA can put their name on a (very long, we’re sure) list for a one-of-a-kind sexual experience straight out of the mind of E.L. James. But if you aren’t willing to shell out thousands of dollars (or wait who knows how many months) in order to partake in the exclusive Mr. Grey experience, there’s hope for you yet. Here are a few simple, and inexpensive, ways to incorporate Christian and Ana-worthy passion into your own love life.

Talk the (Dirty) Talk

According to RedBook, a recent poll found that 50 percent of people are bored in their relationships and crave more sexual adventure. In addition to adding some variety and zest to your sex life, going outside of your comfort zone could ultimately bring you and your partner closer together. It’ll happen not only in the bedroom, but in the everyday intimate moments you share as well.

Before jumping right into role-play inspired by Fifty Shades, make sure you carve out some time to discuss how you and your significant other envision the experience going. If your partner has already seen the film or read the books, discuss your favorite scenes and go from there, delving into your own fantasies and fetishes as you talk. If your lover is new to the racy series, introduce the possibility of incorporating the material into your sex life by sharing the passages you’re most drawn to, telling your partner what intrigues you about the scenes. Chances are they’ll be just as interested as you are in giving something new a try.

While putting Fifty Shades into practice is all about the feeling of letting go and giving up control to your partner, it’s important to remember that you should only go as far as either of you are comfortable with. Thus, you need to communicate your boundaries well before you step into the bedroom (and into any role-playing). Talk about your fantasies, your desires, and especially your limits. Choosing a safe word will help to establish trust between you and your lover, and it ensures play stays at a pace that feels right for both of you.

Role-Play

Though Fifty Shades takes BDSM to a more intense level than many of us may feel comfortable with for a first time role-playing scenario, easing into the dominant and submissive roles with your partner is a great way to dip your toes into the S&M water. Allow your lover to give you orders (or vice versa), such as “touch me there” or commanding them to “fetch” an item for you.

Next, try out a simple blindfold or light restraint by using a soft scarf or silky tie. Minimizing one sense, such as sight, enhances the other senses, making even the graze of your partner’s fingertips feel incredibly erotic against sensitive skin. For even more electrifying sensations, trail an ice cube down your lover’s stomach or back. As Cosmopolitan notes, restraining your partner and rubbing them down with something icy is an ideal way to make things feel more extreme without involving any pain or serious discomfort.

Ready for more? Take it to the next level by acting out the more intense scenes from Christian’s playbook.

Add to Your Reading List

The best part about erotica (besides the steamy scenes) is the freedom they allow for exploration in the bedroom. Reading a kinky novel can inspire new ideas and even increase the level of comfort you have with living out those fantasies in real life. Adam and Eve remarks that bringing Christian and Anastasia’s sensual tales to life can lead to hours of pleasure in the bedroom, not to mention a hotter sexual experience overall. What’s more, there is an ever-increasing number of options available for your erotic reading pleasure, from how-to guides to fiction to non-fiction offerings and everything in between. Whatever you’re into, there’s definitely a book for that. Sure, Fifty Shades may have been your first foray into the world of naughty novels, but why stop there? As Prevention points out,
reading erotica, whether it be alone or with a partner, can boost your libido, making for better orgasms and a more fulfilling sex life all around.

Advice Dumb Shit I Do Winter

How I Tamed the Snowblower Beast

November 11, 2014
snowblower engine, new snowblower

If we still had minstrels they’d write a song about how I tamed the snowblower beast – all by myself no less. As a Minnesota blogger I take on most of my tasks with the idea that I will probably write about them. Usually something goes wrong and it’s worthwhile to take a few pictures and have a laugh or two at my expense. I know a little about a lot of things and can handle most fix-it jobs around the house without assistance but occasionally one comes along that intimidates me just a bit. Learning how to assemble the snowblower was one of those things.

I have tools (not the ex husband) and am not afraid to use power tools if I have to. I’m not afraid but truth be told I probably don’t really know how to use them properly. I’ve found that I’ve acquired a decent set of tools over the years but most jobs require a butter knife and nothing more.

Assembling the snowblower required more than a butter knife but not by much. Most of the challenge was getting the damn thing out of the box. I bought the snowblower a few months ago, long before snow was in the forecast and while it was still balmy out. I purchased it when I did because it was on sale and I wanted to save $50 and because I didn’t want to be putting it together right before a storm or even worse, right after one. I had plenty of time to put the snowblower together but every time I thought about tackling the project I found something better to do. The box was big, it was difficult just to get out of the car and I really didn’t know how I was going to cut around the box like it showed on the box opening instructions not unlike Ikea packaging.

Instead of taking a box cutter and cutting a top out of the box (because I knew I’d cut myself, that’s why) I decided to turn the box over and open it up that way. It wasn’t a bad idea either except I ended up with one flap tucked under the box and ended up having to cut that which wasn’t that big of a deal once I got into it.

Once I got it out of the box I was tasked with the removal of the box which caused a fair amount of anxiety since it was Saturday and recycling day was the day before. Now I had a huge box that had no place to go for a week. I set it on top of the discarded TV from 2007 and haven’t thought much about it since (yes, missing another recycling day).

The box was a distraction from the real task at hand. I could put the handle on and make it upright. All that was necessary there was to screw on two bolts to each side of the handle. After pulling it upright of course.

IMG_0284

That was the easy part. The scary part was figuring out what to do with the bag of extras that was in the box. Included with the red and black behemoth was a bottle of oil and some other plastic things.

It was at this point where I left the garage and came inside to check the weather.

The storm wasn’t due for a couple more days and I was hoping my neighbor would return from hunting soon so he could to the rest. Putting oil into a machine scares the crap out of me for some reason. It’s irrational, I know. The problem is I’ve seen people put the oil in the wrong part of the machine causing my dad to yell and scream and accuse said idiot of not knowing anything about machines (which would be accurate). Not wanting to repeat that scene even if he has been dead for 8 years I was a little worried about where to put the oil.

On an ironic side note I froze up an engine on a ’72 Nash because I didn’t check the oil. I’d only had the ugly ass car for a couple of weeks and no one (I’m talking to you dad) had ever told me about putting oil in the car.

Where was I?

It’s not like there was more than one place to put the oil. There were two places to put fluids into the engine. The gas tank and the oil thing. The gas cap was clearly marked but the place to put the oil was not and that was what tripped me up for three days while I waited for my neighbor to return.

pink flamingo covered in snow

In the mean time storm Astro arrived and dumped a whole of 1.5 inches on St. Paul. A snowblower wasn’t necessary to remove the snow so I was off the hook until the next storm. Surely by then my neighbor would have returned from hunting, right?

He’s still not back so after texting my brother a rambling text about the snowblower, and getting shamed by him for not actually reading the operator’s manual I found my courage and poured the oil in the only other place to pour anything.

Nothing blew up, even though nothing was turned on, so I figured it was all good. I added some gas, I put the key in the slot and pulled the rip cord.

It actually started up!!!

I engaged the auger and tore up some of my driveway and then the engine killed reaffirming my belief that I should not be allowed to play with any kind of engine.

Upon closer inspection of the words that are printed on the back of the machine I learned that the rip cord should be pulled while the lever is switched to choke and that once started it should be moved to run instead of the other way around.

Amazing how it works so much better now. And, it makes a decent lawn mower in a pinch.IMG_0290

Advice Minnesota Winter

How to Prepare for and Survive a Minnesota Winter

November 9, 2014
Minnesota winter survival kit

It’s coming, sooner than we’d hoped but just about on schedule, really. The powers that be at the weather center are predicting a Polar Vortex in the next 48 hours. Montana is expected to reach a low of -9 while places in the Midwest, including Minnesota, are expecting a foot of snow by Tuesday. If you’re from other parts of the country and you’re not sure how to prepare for a Minnesota winter (because that’s what’s being predicted for half the country – at least for the next week, but not MN because we won’t see the grass again until late April or early May) listen up because I’m going to tell you all you need to know to survive a Minnesota Winter.

Basically you’ll need to focus on these three areas – Warmth, Snow Removal and Sustenance – to survive a Minnesota winter.

Warmth

Get your furnace checked now. Ideally you should have had it checked a lot sooner but that’s ok, in Minnesota we wait until after the first snow fall to do most of our winter preparedness but then winter lasts 8 and 3/4s months around here so basically we’re always ready. Change your filters, clean the air vents or bleed the radiators if you’re lucky enough to have them.

To keep the warmth in your home you’ll need to make sure your home is sealed up tight. That means 3M Window Film, though in MN we call it 3M Window Tape because you tape the film to the window and 3M makes tape, Scotch Tape, just FYI. There are all kinds of copycat window sealing kits at the hardware store and they cost considerably less than the 3M version but they never work as well and no one in Minnesota buys non 3M products. I don’t even know why they stock the other brands, probably for out of towners who don’t know better.

What you wear when you are outside is also important. In Minnesota we don’t don our coats and boots until the first snowfall. The temperature doesn’t matter, if there is no snow on the ground you’ll see people wearing shorts and flip flops. Once the first flakes fly we pull out our Carhartts, or puffy down jackets and Sorel boots. We don’t usually bother with scarves or ear muffs until January and then only while ice fishing on a windy lake. Mittens and gloves are important but often forgotten or lost.

Snow Removal

In Minnesota we’ve actually had winters with little snow. The winter of 1983-84 we had just 14.2 inches of snow but usually we get upwards of about 50 inches each year. That’s a lot of snow to move and if you don’t have a decent shovel, a couple of college kids to remove it or a working snowblower you’re not going to survive the winters of Minnesota. You need a way to get from your house to your garage (if you live in the city where the garages are unattached) or you’ll need a way to clear your driveway (if your garage is attached to the house). No matter where your garage is you’re going to have to move the snow off of it and that means work.

Minnesotans develop a nice layer of subcutaneous fat, usually acquired at Friday fish fries, taco Tuesdays and Booyas. While we my have larger asses than folks in other states we have some pretty buff forearms and biceps from moving all that snow. You’ll often hear of 89 year old ladies beating off would be muggers with their bare hands because we have such great upper body strength due to all the snow removal.

Sustenance

If you want to survive a Minnesota winter you’re going to have to stock your pantry with Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup, tuna fish, canned green beans and French’s Fried Onions because you’re going to be eating Hot Dish for the next 6 or 7 months. Don’t worry, you won’t be eating Tuna Hot Dish forever, just until the day after Thanksgiving when you can switch out the tuna with turkey and eat turkey hot dish until Christmas/Hanukah when you can use those leftovers to get you through New Year’s when you switch back to tuna. See Tuna Hot Dish recipe below.

That’s really all it takes to survive a Minnesota winter. You might be wondering what it is we do all winter long, what keeps us entertained. Why haven’t I included any tips of entertainment? We’re too busy removing snow, preparing to remove snow or talking about removing snow to do much of anything else. Thankfully hockey season lasts all year long.

Tuna Hot Dish Recipe

1 can tuna
1 can Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup
Half a box of cooked elbow macaroni
French’s Fried Onions

Mix tuna, soup and cooked noodles in oven safe casserole, cook at 350° for 30 minutes. Remove hot dish and sprinkle the French’s Fried Onions on top and return to oven for another 15 minutes or until onions are golden.

Optional ingredients for non Minnesotans who want some flavor in their food:

Half a cup chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped onions or you can substitute with French’s Fried Onions
1/2 cup frozen peas

And here is the original Campell’s recipe though I caution you because it calls for pimientos and that’s just too extreme for Minnesotans.

Advice Dumb Shit I Do Things that piss me off

Does Fistula Surgery Hurt?

August 15, 2014

Does anal fistula surgery hurt? Yes, fistula surgery hurts. In fact it hurts more than just about anything I have experienced and that includes both vaginal births and c-sections. What follows is a description of what you can expect following anal fistula surgery including pain level, recovery time and treatment if necessary.

I’ve had fistula surgery twice now, each time with the placement and eventual removal of a seton which means I’ve had four surgeries on my ass. Not all fistula surgeries include seton placement and in fact there are many different procedures for fixing an anal fistula (warning, graphic image). Many times the doctor won’t know which procedure they are performing until they get in there and dig around a little.

So just what is an anal fistula?

Anal fistula, or fistula-in-ano, is an abnormal connection between the epithelialised surface of the anal canal and the perianal skin. Anal fistulae originate from the anal glands, which are located between the two layers of the anal sphincters and which drain into the anal canal.  – Wikipedia

What this means is there is a hole or tube from your anus usually through your butt cheek. An abscess forms when the outlet is blocked. This is painful. It’s like a huge boil and relief usually only comes with lancing the abscess or if it bursts through the wall of the anus and drains out the rectum. Draining provides relief but if the underlying issue isn’t resolved you’ll continue to have abscesses.

I first started dealing with this issue when I was about 22 years old. That was over 20 years ago. I had an abscess that at first itched a little but then eventually became so painful I couldn’t sit without considerable pain. I worked in my father’s medical practice at the time and he was sure it was a pilonidal cyst. I scheduled an appointment with a proctologist in the building and had it lanced on a dreary Good Friday afternoon. Relief was immediate and aside from a little drainage I was totally cured.

And then a couple of years later it was back with a vengeance. Because it was a weekend I couldn’t secure an appointment with a doctor to have it lanced for two days so I took matters into my own hands and lanced it myself. While I don’t recommend you lance your own abscesses I’d seen it done enough to have a general idea even if I couldn’t see what I was doing. I did take the care to sterilize my paring knife.

Again relief was immediate and I went on about life.

I could go years without having any trouble and then it would come back, always worse than the time before. Eventually I ended up in the ER with a doctor who didn’t think it was a pilonidal cyst and was convinced it was a fistula instead.

Honestly I didn’t understand the distinction and even today I am not sure if it started out as a pilonidal cyst but then turned into a fistula. I don’t know but I was finally referred to a doctor who insisted on removing it surgically so I didn’t have to keep going through the pain of the abscess.

Surgery was scheduled and it went very well. I had local anesthesia though I was asleep during the procedure I was breathing on my own. Recovery from anal fistula surgery, placement of the seton (warning, this is a graphic image), was also unremarkable. I had a little soreness the first day but I never even bothered to fill my prescription for Vicodin. The worst part about the first surgery was coming out of the anesthesia. I woke up very depressed. It lasted only an hour but it was pretty bad. You can read more about my first fistula surgery here.

Surprisingly it was not difficult or painful to have a bowel movement. I had been sure to get plenty of psyllium each day (Metamucil) so my stools were firm yet soft which made the need for wiping minimal. That was the key, not having to wipe too much. I also took several sitz bathes each day and that helped to keep the area clean but also provided an opportunity for relaxation. Unclenching the butt cheeks is a scary thing to do following surgery.

I had a seton in place which was basically a string that went through the canal. Generally speaking it didn’t hurt to have it in place but if it got tugged while wiping it could cause a little temporary pain.

There was drainage, which was expected, and I used gauze between my butt cheeks to absorb it.

The next surgery, the one to remove the seton, was schedule a few months later and while a little more painful it was pretty much the same recovery. A little sore but never a need to fill my prescription for pain killers.

At my post op exam the doctor said it looked great and that drainage could continue for quite some time. I’d been dealing with the drainage for years and as far as I was concerned as long as it was draining it wasn’t forming an abscess. Drainage wasn’t painful, not draining was extremely painful.

And life went on. Years went by and it never occurred to me that maybe the drainage should have stopped. Until it did and then things got bad.

With no drainage I had a huge abscess which was hugely painful. I went down to the ER again and sat there, yes, sat there, for 4 hours only to be told it would be hours more before I could be seen. I didn’t live far from the hospital so went home to bed after acquiring some pain medication.

I called the doctor the next day and got an appointment in his office with another doctor on staff. She took one look and said it was time to do the surgery again.

“Great.” I said. “While you’re down there can you please lance that motherfucker?”

She laughed and sliced it open with skill.

Sorry this is taking so long. If you’re still with me we’re almost done.

I scheduled the second procedure, again a two part procedure, after having an MRI to make sure everything was in order. I suspect they were looking for indication of cancer but I wasn’t worried about that.

The first surgery, the one with the seton placement, went just as the first one did. I had it at the beginning of the summer and had made plans to go camping, across country, a week after the surgery. Again, I never filled the pain killer prescription. Though I did take 3 ibuprofen every 5 hours like clockwork. Camping meant a plane ride and hours in the airport lugging a child and luggage around. Maybe not the smartest thing but aside from a little discomfort I was ok.

The second surgery was scheduled two months later and I was sure it would go the same. When they were prepping me for surgery the doctor came in and told me what to expect. She said it would probably be a little more painful than the first one. I wasn’t buying it, I was master at pain by this point, but just in case this time I had the pain killer Rx filled.

Smartest thing I ever did.

When I was at home and the anesthesia had all worn off I was in the most pain I had ever been in. I took three ibuprofen because as a single mom I didn’t want to be drugged up and taking Vicodin, even half, knocked me out. The ibuprofen barely even cut at the pain.

I cried all night long and had a fair amount of anxiety due to it. I started spiking a fever and called the doctor’s service. I didn’t feel as though I had an infection and didn’t think it would register so quickly and suspect it was due to the inflammation which is what the doctor told me when she called back.

The next day I got over my fear of the painkiller and took them willingly.

I could take two but wouldn’t be able to function. One was enough to cut the pain back enough to stay awake, though I still couldn’t work because my brain was foggy.

I was coherent enough to post several times about this on Facebook, if you friend me you can laugh your ass off.

Even though I was taking the pain killers I was still in pain. In hindsight I should have planned on taking a week of work and just kept myself drugged up. I couldn’t do that but if I had I suspect my recovery could have been shortened.

I remained in pain and long before I could take another pill the pain came back. I was constantly chasing the pain. Because I was in so much pain I was incredibly emotional. The smallest thing would start me crying and I wasn’t a cryer. Movies, tv shows. Hell, I binge watched The Blacklist and cried because the main character, Ray Reddington, who is arguably a bad guy, did something nice. The cat knocked some hard boiled eggs off the counter top and I cried like a little girl for 15 minutes.

I was raw both physically and mentally.

Each day I told myself that I was a little better but the truth is it took a week before I didn’t have to take a prescription pain killer and was still taking too much ibuprofen. In fact because I was taking so much over the counter pain medication my stomach was tossing and turning. Eating was not pleasurable because I knew it would inevitably lead to a bowel movement and that was just too much to bear at the moment.

You’d think that not eating would result in weight loss but it hasn’t worked out that way for me.

It’s now been over a week and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel though I suspect it’s still a week or two away.

If you are going to have anal fistula surgery be sure to be prepared. If you have kids make a ton of meals in advance. My poor daughter has had nothing but Michelina’s for the last week. They used to be a treat but she hates them now.

Have someone stay with you if you can. The worst part about this whole ordeal was not having anyone to help me out. I had to go to the grocery story, gas station, take my daughter to school and all the other things you have to do each day. It was hell. If you can avoid it, do. I had no one to talk to except for a client who is a therapist in Chicago who’s website I was working on.

I’m hoping this surgery is my last but I have been told that there is no guarantee and since the first one didn’t take I am not so convinced this one will. I will say this, if it doesn’t solve the problem, I will be living with the fistula as I will never go through this much pain again.

What are your experiences with anal fistula surgery? Feel free to share them in the comments.

Advice

Top 3 Things to do Online After the Kids have Gone to Bed

January 8, 2014

There are some people who after a long day of work and looking after their children just end up sitting in front of their TV bored out of their minds, just waiting for the next day to come. This is not the way for people to live and so if you find yourself like this there are definitely a few things that you could change.
The first of which is a TV that you watch, even if you don’t change your schedule changing to an online streaming service such as Netflix world enhance the way that you watch TV dramatically. This is because Netflix has a huge library of films and TV shows that you can pick from to watch instantly over the Internet.
However if you want to take full advantage of the Internet then you should look at a website called Reddit as this is commonly known as the front page of the Internet. The reason why it’s known as this is Reddit is a place for people to post links on many different subjects. Each different page on Reddit is devoted to a different subject that you can subscribe to so that it appears on your personal Reddit homepage. Each link can be up voted or down voted so only the best links get to the top of the page.
Adding a little more excitement to your nightly pursuits is definitely a worthy thing to do and while the best ways to do this is to play online casino games as there is nothing more exciting than winning real money against other real people. All the online casino websites offer free to play versions of their games so that you can get to know them before you put any real money in and find out if you really like the game or not. If you want to try out all these great games, then Click here.

Advice Kids WTF?

Freaky Old Spice Mom Ad

January 6, 2014
creepy old spice mom commercial, viral video with moms for old spice

So this latest viral video is either really funny or really creepy depending on how much of a helicopter parent you turned out to be. It’s about mothers and their sons who grow up to use Old Spice. I suppose it’s about letting go but really it just looks like these young men are going to have difficulty in any new relationship and they may as well forget about a healthy marriage with moms like that.

My son never used Old Spice but he did bathe in Axe for a while. When he left for college I can’t say I was sorry because no matter how the marketing department tries to dress it up Axe is just nasty.

This ad has the potential to be really funny but the images are just a little too strange. Especially the mom dressed up as a janitor. What’s that all about?

So, do you think this new Old Spice ad is funny or creepy.

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Advice Food Things I Really Like

Shelf Safe Milk: Easy and Convenient – Tasty Too!

August 6, 2013
milk unleashed logo

Even though I haven’t written about out trip to the Badlands yet it would have been challenging to find healthy meals on the go, at a reasonable cost, if it hadn’t been for shelf safe milk.

I am participating in a Milk Unleashed review of shelf safe milk in an effort to get the word out about how safe, convenient and tasty shelf safe milk is. I purchased my shelf safe milk at Costco but you can find it in most grocery stores these days. I’ve found it in the refrigerator even though it doesn’t need to be there.

We packed the car up with a couple of coolers but those were mostly meant for my beloved Diet Coke (yes, I am off the wagon – again) which can only be consumed ice cold. The coolers were also the place we kept the corn suckers from the Corn Palace and the shelf safe milk.

how is shelf safe milk produced, process of shelf safe milk

I knew I didn’t have to keep the milk in a cooler. I knew that the milk, chocolate in this case, was perfectly safe to drink at room temperature because of the way it is processed and the way it is packaged. The only problem was that I chose to take this vacation during the hottest week of the year and South Dakota has no trees. That might now sound like a big deal but for those of you who come from places with trees — it means they had no shade. Shade is a good thing, it keeps things less hot.

So I knew I didn’t have to keep the shelf safe milk in the cooler but I also knew that no one wanted to drink warm milk on the hottest day of the year.

So in the cooler (really just a large container of ice water) it went.

Let me just say this; the juice boxes didn’t fare as well as the shelf safe chocolate milk. The juice boxes were soggy and difficult to puncture with the straw. The shelf safe milk was just as sturdy as before it went into the cooler, even after hours of swimming in ice water.

how shelf safe milk is packaged, how shelf safe milk is prepared, packaging for shelf safe milk

The reason for this is due to the packaging as you can see in this really cool illustration.

Before this trip I’d never tried shelf safe milk. Okay, that isn’t true, we bought some once in Mexico years ago where it’s quite common to buy milk not from the refrigeration section. It wasn’t bad and I remember thinking how convenient it would be to have milk that could be stored in the pantry instead of the fridge. Unfortunately the U.S. has been really late to the shelf safe milk party.

The milk was not only good but it was great. Now, that may have been the chocolate milk that was so good but I am pretty sure the white milk is good too.

I’ve not been much of a milk drinker since I discovered dieting in my teens. I made the mistake of replacing the milk in my diet with Tab because I thought I was saving calories. I was but not many and the cost is probably pretty high. Thankfully I replaced most of the food in my diet with cottage cheese so I was still getting calcium. Another reason I stopped drinking milk was because milk was an iffy thing. We got our milk from the milkman, like a lot of people did back then, and you never really knew how long it sat outside.

You only have to drink out of the carton once, take a huge swig of sour milk, and decide maybe there are better things to drink.

I forgot how much I actually like milk and now that I know, for sure, that it isn’t going taste all nasty sour, I can enjoy it any time.

And so can you. Below is a list of all the different shelf safe milks, some you’ve probably already tried.

Resources for moms:

 

 

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