Delivering a Severe Beating to Straw Men Everywhere

I don’t know the source, but this appears on a classroom wall:

Text on a classroom wallLet’s take these 1 by 1…

  1. Dear Black Students: In this classroom, your life matters. (But only in the classroom, apparently. Huh. I would have said it matters everywhere.)
  2. Dear Muslim Students: You are not terrorists. (That is, unless this unknown wall is from the University of DartmouthBunker Hill Community College , Chowan University or North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, Virginia Tech or USUHS, Stanford University, Indian State CollegeCalifornia State University, UC-Merced, UT-Chattanooga, and on and on and on. Actually, this may be the stupidest statement up here because how can anyone categorically state it?)
  3. Dear LGBTQ+whatever: Your life is beautiful and allowed to expand past fake social rules. (Otherwise known as actual social rules, because nobody has to overcome fake rules. As for “your life is beautiful”, that’s the kind of meaningless uplifting pap one can say so long as you’re not actually picturing the hairy men in ass-less chaps at the parade.)
  4. Dear Female Students: Men cannot grab you. (They have hands. They can. Grammar aside, lots of women love being grabbed…especially by billionaires who are known to swap out wives for new hotties. I think this one needs a total rewrite to address the real issue of consent. And by the way…how LOW is the bar now that this is all you’re willing to say to the female students? So…rapes will NOT be happening on the pinball game during class time? Finally, a professor willing to take a stand on this troubling issue!)
  5. Dear Latino(a) Students: You are not rapists and drug dealers. (There absolutely are some of these of every race on any campus, so this one is even statistically more unwise than the terrorist one.)
  6. Dear Illegal Immigrant Students whose only difficulty is a lack of papers which happens when you break the law: In this classroom there are no walls. (Says the…sign. On a wall.)

Hollywooooood On Strike!

So celebrities are trying to get a huge strike going, which will last until Trump steps down.


So, let me understand the “threat” here:

  • We won’t see Rosie O’Donnell, Ed Asner, or any of the other committed liberals who join the strike on our screens until the strike ends.
  • Republicans like Michael Bay will still make movies.
  • The movies, now “hurting” for stars, will employ the Republican actors who sometimes struggle due to their outspoken views. Dwight Schultz will play the spy chief giving out assignments to superspy Freddie Prinze Jr. as he battles arch-villain Clint Howard.
  • Since most of the gays in the industry will be protesting, the remaining working actors will look less metrosexual and more rugged because no one is doing their hair or make-up.
  • If successful, the movie industry will take a huge hit, crippling the economy of the biggest blue state, leaving thousands of liberals unemployed or struggling, and there will be less money to donate to Democrats.

Did ANYONE think this through?

How I Changed The World

I have loved Rifftrax for years.  Their Rifftrax Live project is a lot of fun, but my wife and I haven’t been able to see many of them because it’s always 60-90 miles to the nearest participating theater.  We did see the Starship Troopers one, but really, two hours of driving to LaCrosse and back is too hard to do on a weeknight.  Even after supporting their 2014 Kickstarter, I didn’t get to see the movies.

Finally, with their 2015 Kickstarter for “The Crappening”, I spoke up and asked why these three Minnesotans don’t do shows in Rochester.  Mere hours later, the local Cinemagic 12 did a Facebook poll to ask if there was interest in seeing Rifftrax live…and in light of the rapid happy response, they announced they’d be participating.

Let’s face it…it all happened because of me!  How cool is that?

Why didn’t I ask years ago?  Stupid, stupid, stupid!

Attending Social Media Residency today

A candid pic of me at the Social Media Residency

I’m attending a sort of class on the use of social media, called the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media Residency #MCCSM.  (See pics.) My blogs TheHutch and Monitor Duty have been quite neglected.  Now I’m learning about how to commit to putting out at least a little content and then reinforcing the content with more quickie things such as Tweets.  What I’m learning is going to be very helpful as we revise the website and rethink our social media plans at  Beyond that, I’m hoping to put some of these skills to good use when it comes time to promote my Kickstarter campaign for the next 5 issues of my comic book, Metro Med, the Hospital for Superheroes (Facebook and Twitter, if you want to keep informed about the Kickstarter. Thanks!).

I just learned how so many blogs have tweets looking so nice.  Turns out it’s just a built-in function of WordPress.  Voila:

One assignment was to shoot an amateur video on our smart phones and put it on YouTube.  This is as amateur as I could make it, including the noise and getting cut off as I’m saying the word “amateur.”

Unfortunately, the assignment couldn’t wait until I lost 130 pounds.  Hard to follow the rule of thirds, when I fill up all the thirds.  Egad.  Look at me, gesturing with my fat fingers.


Cross-posted from

Paint Sets, Cake Decorating and Forced Female Circumcision

Lots of hot-headed foofaraw about the Hobby Lobby case on my Facebook wall, all about how there’s a need to separate religion from business, etc., because it’s dictating what employees can do with their bodies.

And this is exactly why Obamacare is totally wrong.

Look: some religious people opened a business.  Are you saying religious people cannot open businesses?  Aren’t you, really?  Okay, then.  It’s okay for religious people to own and run businesses.

Their principals and ethics are part of the business…just as they are in ALL BUSINESSES. Do liberals object to Chipotle buying free-range chicken and locally sourced vegetables, or to Trader Joe’s which clearly has principals about the quality of their food?  If you don’t like the principals of any business, do you order the business how to operate, or do you go somewhere else?  (Okay, yes, if you’re a liberal, you do both. See Wal-Mart.)

Same for employees: if you don’t like a business, don’t work there. That’s the way it’s been throughout time.  In fact, ever since many businesses started offering medical insurance (BTW: because of government price controls), insurance compensation has been a factor in job choices.  (“Hmm. They offer more money, but I’d go from my gold standard insurance to a much higher deductible and co-pay.”)

As for birth control, it’s not terribly expensive, and until recently no one thought it needed to be covered by insurance.  Insurance is for emergencies.  Having sex is not an emergency; if you can’t afford at least a dollar for a condom, you’re too poor to be having sex.  Make better life choices, like keeping your knees together until you’ve found a dollar.  Quote Monty Python to your friends; that is the best form of free birth control.

Hobby Lobby has offered a good medical insurance, but it doesn’t cover abortions, abortifacents or other birth control [CORRECTION: Hobby Lobby actually offers lots of birth control!].  They don’t interfere in their employees’ personal lives, they don’t stop them from getting abortions, they don’t stop them from buying birth control.  Again, this is all the American way.  Everyone is making choices here.

If Hobby Lobby’s insurance provider suddenly said that they had decided, as a company, to cover abortions, Hobby Lobby could have had the options to select a different provider, or at worst drop medical insurance and instead raise wages to compensate .

Then the government came along and demanded that all businesses must offer insurance that violates the consciences of many people who run businesses.  While Hobby Lobby didn’t start their business because they wanted to get into medical insurance, now the government forces them to.  If they don’t, they have to pay a big fine…which goes towards providing abortions under Obamacare, so they’re no less out of the paying-for-abortions loop.

But, to judge by my Facebook wall, many Americans think it is wrong of Hobby Lobby to have ethics.  To hear them tell it, Hobby Lobby will be stoning women next.  That’s the next step, right after “refusing to pay for abortions.”

Welcome IMAO readers, and thanks for making me Link of the Day, Harvey!

I Am Out Of The Hospital

My first room at St. Mary's hospital

Let’s back up a bit.  I haven’t updated the blog in a while, so you don’t know all that’s going on. (I’m so neglectful, you may not even know that we got a new poodle named Murphy last September.  Maybe I should do a post on that soon.)

I walked a 5K on my birthday, March 29th.  I was feeling really good.  But in the month since, I have been having dizzy spells; some light, some serious.  I’ve also been short of breath in meetings, or when I came back to my desk.  I attribute all of this to the weight I’ve put on which has made my clothes tight; if it would just STOP SNOWING ALREADY I could be working this off and drop 15 pretty quickl  These spells have been off and on, but in the last week I started to put 2+2 together and thought I’d maybe get an appointment with my doc to get it checked out.  I opted to see the nurse on Thursday, May 1st, rather than wait a week for the doctor.

Melinda tells me that they may want to run some labs, so I should not eat anything after midnight and have breakfast after my morning appointment.  I figure they’ll take an X-ray, draw some blood, maybe make me jog on a treadmill, then send me home with some pills and a note to lose 20 pounds.  I’m anxious, because I need to spend the next two evenings working furiously to finish lettering and prepping my next Metro Med comic book and get it off to the printers in time for the convention, and I already have to spend two hours Thursday night going to my last cake decorating class.

So…at the Northeast family clinic, they have trouble getting my blood pressure despite numerous attempts.  My heart is only beating 30 beats a minute.   I keep telling them I feel fine!  They put me in a wheelchair and wheel me down to X-ray!  I stand up from the ridiculous wheelchair, take a few steps, and stumble to the X-ray platform, but the dizziness passes. They then wheel me back. The nurse, Nicole, finally comes in and tells me, “You are in total heart block.  You’re going to go downtown and get a pacemaker.”  While I absorb this, she picks up the phone and asks which emergency room I should drive to so that she can give me directions.  She hangs up and tells me my car will have to sit in the lot while they’re taking me in an ambulance!

Next thing I know, I’m downtown and Melinda’s left work to join me in the emergency room.  (Fortunately, it’s right across the street from her building.)  They examine my heart and find that the upper ventricles want to go much faster than the lower ventricles, so I definitely have to have a pacemaker.  They think they can get me in to surgery that day, so I can’t eat anything until then.  I am in surgery at 3:30 and finished around 6.  Finally got to eat 24 hours after my previous meal!

My first room at St. Mary's hospital
My first room at St. Mary’s hospital

This actually is a very simple procedure, and I was discharged after lunch today.  My mom’s come down to help out for a few days, because I can’t really lift more than 5 pounds (or put my left arm over my head), nor can I drive.  My buddy Erik found me a speedy printer that has a quicker turnaround time, so I may still be able to get my comic to the convention, and Melinda’s going to go to SpringCon with me since I can’t lift anything.

I’m okay, folks.  This is actually a good thing, because I’ve been “off my game” for a while, but I never had any heart pain.  I had no clue this was going on.  For all I know, I could have been on the verge of something much worse, heart-wise.  I’ll be able to function better.  This new pacemaker will not let my heart go below 60 beats per minute, when before it was dipping to 30.

So, to sum up:  I have a small, circular power-source in my chest that runs wires to my heart to keep me alive.  I am Iron Man.

Forget Team Edward and Team Jacob

So in the Time Machine, the time traveler finds that humanity has diverged into two species.

One kind is made up of witless incompetents who have everything provided for them and never question it. All they do is have sex, presumably leading to a lot of babies … although the author never mentions pregnancies or children…just all the hot stupid young swinging singles.

The other half of humanity creates clothing, grows food for themselves and the worthless ones, builds equipment…basically does all the work and keeps civilization functioning.  If they have machines and skillsets that must be passed on, it means that they have a working educational system.  They use the first group as a food source, sure, but without them the other ones would either starve or overpopulate their ecosystem.

Purely on the basis of looks, the second group is considered a bunch of scary monsters.

I’m totally Team Morlock.


P.S. Am I crazy to think that their system makes more sense?  At least there is a downside to being on welfare in their world.

R.I.P. Chewbacca “Chewie” Hutchison, 2009-2013

Chewie with a halo!

Chewie’s final weekend convinced me that we were doing the right thing.  It was a weekend where he slept when he wasn’t painfully coughing, and his only bright moments were when he got to eat snacks or chow down on some rotisserie chicken.  I tried taking him for a walk, and we could only go around the house on our corner and back.  It really drove home that he was suffering at this point, and his lurching attempts to roll himself out of bed and onto his feet made me regret that we had waited this long.

I took Monday the 26th off from work so that I could spend the last day with Chewie, and I was so glad I did.  He had a great last day! It started out with a car ride to drop off Melinda at work (she couldn’t get out of it, being the current team nurse).  Chewie loved it, as he has loved all car rides, and Melinda rode in the back seat with him so that she could soak up all of these last moments.  I did, however, have to lift him into the car.

When we got home, I took him for a walk in the cool morning air, and Chewie had so much energy that we went half a block!  I was certain that that would have wiped him out and he would need to doze, but Chewie kept hanging around me, wondering what we would do next!  I gave him a day filled with cuddles and treats on the sofa, a last nap on our sunny deck, and I even tossed his orange pumpkin squeak toy and watched him run for it!

After picking up Melinda from work, we spent our last hour with him and we pressed his paws into some homemade play-dough that she had made so that we would have impressions of his paw prints.  Then we headed off to Quarry Hill Vet to say good-bye.

Dr. Karen Lee and Gina were so kind.  They said that they had been sad all day, knowing that this was on the schedule.  Melinda and I took turns holding him one last time, while the doctor administered the drug.

I’ve had to do this before, for Melinda’s cat, Alley, and my cat, Natasha, when they had lived long happy lives and had fallen ill in their old age.  Those cats were so old, they predated our marriage.

Chewie had just turned four.

We bundled him in a beautiful old blanket, placed him in a plastic washtub that I had brought with, and we took him home.  I ran around packing the car as quick as I could, while Melinda brought a few of Chewie’s favorite things to be buried with him.  She lay down on the floor to stroke his head one last time.  Melinda couldn’t get off work, which meant I had a long lonely car ride north and Melinda wouldn’t have anyone with her that night.

Doris, our older cat, approached and investigated.  I believe she could tell that Chewie was dead.  We felt this was better than his sudden disappearance from her life.

I arrived at my parents’ farm three hours later, where I found that my dad had prepared a beautiful coffin and my mom had written on the lid.  I gave my doggie one last pet on his woolly head, and then I placed the items in his coffin: the orange pumpkin, a stuffing-free fox squeak toy, a ball, a chip twist, a chicken chew…and one of our business cards with the picture of the three of us.

(I am hiding these next pictures in a spoiler, for those of you who don’t want to see him in his casket.)

Show »

Chewie in the blanket
Chewie at peace
One last pat on the head
One last pat on the head

Chewie in his coffin with his memorial items
Chewie in his coffin with his memorial items

We buried him that night, and we finished seeding the grave the next morning. Chewie is buried under the limbs of a tree, and my parents are planting flowers nearby.

Chewie's coffin
Chewie’s coffin
Chewie's grave site
Chewie’s grave site

I don’t know what kind of afterlife awaits dogs, but it’s my hope that his spirit is chasing the rabbits around that farm at full speed, free of the pain that slowed him down.  Go, run.  Good boy!

Chewie’s Farewell Tour

Chewie was doing so well that we didn’t pick up on the return of his cancer for a while.

On July 3rd, I took Chewie out to the car.  He planted his feet as we approached the car.  That was odd, since he had once again enjoyed going to Leashes and Leads for doggy day care.  When he wasn’t feeling well, he was unhappy spending the whole day running around with other dogs.  It had taken a long time, too long, for me to realize that his balking at doggy day care wasn’t because of something at Leashes and Leads that he had grown to dislike, but because he felt sick.  Once he recovered from surgery, we found that he was delighted to have doggy day care again.

Now, I’m trying to get him in the car, and he doesn’t want to go.

Melinda hopped in, and we headed off to work.  I told her how I had to lift Chewie in. “Maybe he’s not feeling well?” she offered.  “He hasn’t been eating a lot… and I’ve had to clean his ears almost every day…and he’s had goopy eyes the last few days…”

“And he’s having a lot of dificulty getting out of bed” I added.

With every additional bit of evidence mentioned, we realized what it added up to.  “Uh oh.”

It’s odd how he could have eye infections and ear infections and a lack of appetite, just as he had in January and February, and yet we didn’t put two and two together.  It’s not like he’s not eating anything…just that sometimes he eats sparingly, or doesn’t eat in the morning but does in the evening.  But once you start saying the things out loud…they add up so obviously.

I made an appointment for the end of the day at Quarry Hill Vet, and sure enough, his white blood cell count was high again.  48,000 when it should be around 16,000.  Back in February, it was 160,000…so we had some time, but the cancer was definitely back.

July 4th, he spent the day laying around the house.  I was pretty sure that we would be taking him to Quarry Hill to be put to sleep within a few days.  But when we came home Friday, he greeted us at the door, tail wagging happily!

Since then, Chewie has had good days and bad days, but even his good days aren’t great.  We took him up to my parents’ farm so that he could romp around, but he would only be good for three throws of the ball before he’d set it down and lay on it, indicating he was done.  We brought him along to the Rineharts, the family that adopted our Labradoodle Layla, when they had a birthday party.  Chewie had a good day, he walked with Layla, he got a lot of attention…but he didn’t have energy to do much more than walk.  (Chewie usually jumps up on people he recognizes.)

And he has his bad days.  Panting, growling, and displaying more affection than usual are all signs that a dog is in pain… and Chewie has been doing all three.  He has had moments where the lightest touch to his belly while he is sleeping will cause him to yelp with the most awful cry, and yet we cannot duplicate this for the doctor when he is awake.  We told ourselves that “quality of life” was the deciding factor of when we would put him down…but as I write this on August 25th, almost two months since we realized the cancer was back, I realize how many times he was in pain.  What has stopped us from the decision was that he can seemingly flip a switch and suddenly be having a good day.  It may be that his pain meds were kicking in, or he got to ride in a car and it cheered him up, or he simply had a better day.

This last Tuesday, we took him to PetSmart to say goodbye to his trainer and dog-sitter, Marcia.  Marcia was the one who told us that his goopy eye was an eye infection and we should take him to the vet…and the very next day was the start of his cancer journey.  That day, back in February, was the day that Chewie passed his Canine Good Citizenship, which was supposed to be the start of a great new phase of his life…and seeing the picture Marcia showed us, of Melinda and I beaming as we held a smiling Chewie, was very bittersweet.  Yet Chewie loved seeing Marcia again.  His little sausage tail wagged furiously as he buried his muzzle between her knees.  He even gave a weak attempt at jumping up at her.  We then spent an hour picking out some supplies for the new kittens that were added to our household this last week.  (Chewie adores them!)  The entire time, Chewie was happy to get petted by strangers, greet new dogs, and explore the store.  Getting home at 7pm, we marveled that he had been “up” for two whole hours, and figured he must be near collapse.  I opened the car door…and instead of heading for the back yard, Chewie dragged me to the street to go for a walk on top of all that other activity!  We walked south past four houses, and then Chewie and I headed home.  The walks are not very long these days.

Chewie has also been having some hip pain, perhaps brought on by the cancer, perhaps not. Perhaps the cancer is saving him from a painful decade of hip dysplasia that he would have had anyway because he’s a poodle and they’re prone to that.  Who can tell?

In the last two weeks, the lengths of his walks has been consistently dropping.  Chewie, who could once tear across the dog park and run full tilt for a half hour, or walk ahead of me wanting me to go faster as we walked the length of Silver Lake Park and back to home, suddenly can only go around two blocks and back home.  Then he could only go down the street two blocks, turn around and come back.  Then he could only go around one block.  Then it was just down the block and back. Then half the block. Tuesday, it was only four houses down the block.

On Thursday, Chewie planted his feet before we were past the third house.  It was a clear message.  That was as far as he could go.  I wanted to see the damage from that morning’s storm and flash flood as a guy was pulling out items from his house to dry on the lawn, so I tugged him forward. He relented, and slowly walked forward one more house.  Then we went home.

Melinda and I decided.

On Friday, I called Quarry Hill Vet to see if we could get a 4 pm appointment for that day.  If we could, then we could take Chewie up to my parents’ farm to be buried.  Quarry Hill didn’t have any open times, so we have scheduled it for Monday the 26th at 4 pm.  This weekend, we’ve stopped all of his pills except for the two painkillers, and Chewie’s eating rotisserie chicken and hamburgers!  I wish I could say that Chewie is living the high life and getting one last hurrah.  Truth is, he’s mainly sleeping, when he isn’t indicating his growling and barking at his pain.

Friday, I barely made it through work.  I used up the box of tissues at my desk while I tried to focus on file comparisons and building new web pages.  But something my friend John Morgan Neil (the comic book writer who created Aym Geronimo) said really touched me.  Our pets rely on us for everything, including taking away their pain.