Friday, April 22, 2011

How An MRI Can Turn Out To Be Fun

So today I went in for a root canal and got an MRI by mistake.  Well not really, but you get the picture.  As some of you have read before, I have occasional appointments at our local VA hospital.  I had been scheduled today, or so I thought for a simple root canal.  Apparently I looked at my calendar wrong.  The receptionist cheerfully informed me at the dental department that I had no appointment scheduled with them today.  By cheerfully, I mean looked at like I had three heads for wasting their time.  But after calling home and looking at my appointment sheet my wife informs me that I in fact had an MRI.  You know, where they put you inside a giant magnet to take really fancy pictures of your innards?  Yep, that MRI.  No big deal I thought, I’m just trading one moment of discomfort for the other.  Shouldn’t be too big a deal.  I can lie down for a half hour.  That I’m an expert at.
So I saunter on over to the MRI reception desk on the other side of the hospital.  I’m thinking that I’ll be met with a few minutes of waiting and then a trip through a giant magnet.  Nope, apparently they need to take blood from you.  So I get the ever so happy task of sitting in the phlebotomy waiting room for a complete stranger to stick a needle in me.  But at least it didn’t take too long and didn’t feel a thing.  Oh who am I kidding?  I can’t stand needles and I wanted to pee on myself.  But somehow I managed to survive the poking and prodding and walk back to the MRI lab.  Arm sore and upset over the lack of band-aids with cartoon characters on them.  Last thing I want to see in a veterans hospital is camouflage bandages.
But I go back and sit until I’m called in.  The procedure itself was simple enough.  They wave you with a metal detector wand like at the airport.  Because the last thing you want when sitting in a giant magnet is for metal to come flying out of your body.  I can’t imagine it is very pleasant.  But for having to sit with your face four inches away from the top wall of an MRI machine for an hour, it was actually rather pleasant.  The guy running the machine couldn’t have been cooler given my slight claustrophobia.  They had a local rock station, WMMR rigged into a headset so you didn’t have the complete feeling like you were inside a washing machine.  Which is what it feels like.  Being stuck in a washing machine.  Little tip, time your breathing to the constant buzzing and humming and you’ll do fine.  But for being stuck in a giant tube, listening to Pierre Robert’s Work Force Block is the way to go.
So, I went in for a root canal and came out the recipient of an MRI.  Apparently my innards are fine.  Turns out the root canal is next.  Which means they get to numb my mouth up.  Whoppee!  What the hell is it with me getting stuck with a needle every time I go to the VA?

Monday, April 18, 2011

How I Ended Up On The Field During AWhite Sox Game

It’s not all that often that I actually sit down and tell stories about my time in the military.  Some of them I have honestly forgot.  Others are actually a little too painful to put in print yet.  I’d like to think that my contribution to the Michael Moore book “Will They Ever Trust Us Again?” encapsulates my feelings on the war in Iraq and things about the military in general.  But those are stories for another time.
However, there are a few tales here and there that are of an extremely positive and memorable nature.  Take for instance something happened when I was in basic training.  The division that I was placed in upon my arrival at RTC Great Lakes was what was called a 900 division.  To quickly explain it, we performed ancillary duties around the base and performed ceremonial tasks during presentations and special events.  So if you have ever been to a military pass in review ceremony, we were the people holding the flags and marching really straight.  Every other day we would rehearse these extremely choreographed marching patterns.  We had to be really on the ball with this stuff, because every week when there was some sort of special event we would be pressed into service.  Marching around with the flags and standing still for long periods of time.
 People thought we kind of had it easy, because they thought we got special treatment.  For the most part, this was completely untrue.  When most of the other recruits on the base would be sitting doing nothing on a Sunday, we would be rehearsing for hours at a time.  Because when it came down to our own graduation, we would be performing the flag movements for our own graduation.  Talk about pressure.
But for the special treatment, every once in a great while we would have something come up that would require us to go off base.  For someone that had spent the past couple of months where their entire world was this couple of acres forty miles north of Chicago, the opportunity to go off base was a very big deal.  Our occasion to go out into the real world was that the Chicago White Sox were sponsoring a basic training division.  And they were going to be swearing them in at Comiskey Park before a game.  Coupled with the fact that we were going to be standing in for the national anthem, we were pretty psyched.  Some of the folks in our group had probably never seen a patch of grass as big as that ball field.  We were now all going to be standing on an honest to god major league ballfield.
The ceremony itself was pretty short.  They marched the sponsored White Sox division right up to home plate, had them do the swearing in, and ushered them off before anyone really noticed anything different.  Then the rest of us formed along the warning track while they played the national anthem.  As a baseball fan, being part of the national anthem during a pro baseball game was a pretty awesome experience.  I remember that the wind was blowing pretty heavy that night.  Must have made for a very awesome visual.  If that’s the only time I ever step foot on a major league ballpark, that ten minutes was worth the other four years I was in the navy.  Due to the start time of the game, and the fact that we had to be back on base by ten pm, we had to rush back on the bus before the first pitch was thrown.  We had done our job and we were back on our way to Great Lakes.  I did take a couple of steps onto the centerfield grass right on the edge of the warning track.  Pretty damn cool.
About a third of the way back to the base, our RDC(drill instructor) realized that by the time we got back it would be way past chow time.  And seeing as how we all did such a wonderful job, there was no way he was going to settle with just giving us warmed over sack lunches.  That and he was hungry as hell.  So he makes the announcement that as long as we don’t act like total fools, he was having the bus driver stop at a McDonalds and we had forty five minutes to gorge ourselves.  Now imagine this, we had all, sixty or so of us been stuck on the base for a couple of months.  We were being told on ten minutes notice we were pulling into a McDonalds.  I swear to you there were people miracling money right out of thin air.  Somehow I managed through sheer force of will conjured up forty dollars.  I can only imagine the shock of the people behind the counter when we pulled up.  Sixty people all in dress white Navy uniforms pulling up to the McDonalds counter.  I think that day was the single largest of consumption of fast food in the history of fast food.  I remember personally consuming two Big Macs, one 20 piece, a large chocolate shake and a bag of fries.  Quite literally, a whole bag.  A whole field of Idaho potatoes gave their lives just for this one serving of French fries.  But an hour or so later the illusion was split and we were back on the base.   But at the very least, that evening gave me a positive story that I can tell people for the rest of my live.  Like when I knocked Oliver North into a wall by accident.  But that’s another story for another time.

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Official Results Of The Green Death Hot Sauce Challenge!

Well folks, now that I got that off my chest...time for the results of the Green Death Hot Sauce Challenge.  We finally got around to it last night seeing as how I recovered from our latest excursion to Golden Corral earlier in the week.  Sorry for all the delays but that place will knock you silly.  We arranged everything to coincide with our normal dinner time.  The wings in question were pre cooked buffalo wings bought from a Sam’s Warehouse.  They cook up easily and taste great even when you don’t put anything on them.  So we had the implements of my potential downfall at hand.  As per the rules of the contest, my wife was in charge of putting the sauce on the wings.  Here is a picture of the sauce in question…

The Green Death itself, El Yucateco.  This stuff will rip the chrome off a trailer hitch.  As you will see in the pictures it almost glows in the dark.  Bright green.  But I gotta say outright, we go through a bottle a month of this stuff.  For a period, we would put it on everything under the sun.  To provide you with an exact account of what sort of nemesis I dealt with, after about twenty minutes in the cooker my wife proceeded with laying on the sauce.  For six wings, there was a full tablespoon of sauce each.  Which turned out to be roughly a third of the bottle.  It was then let to congeal on the wings to ensure maximum spice penetration once the wings hit my mouth.  A glass of water was placed to my left.  One sip from the glass would constitute submission and I would have lost the challenge.  There was no time limit.  Just go until you cannot go anymore.  My wife placed the finished wings in front of me and the challenge was on!

Here are a couple of shots of me as I was plowing my way through the potentially lethal half dozen.  The trick to any hot sauce challenge is to get through them as fast as possible.  Once the sauce hits your taste buds, it will take effect and quick.  The sensation will hit you like a ton of bricks.  So you gotta get out of the blocks early before the peppers overcome you.

Around wing three or four, the sauce achieved maximum burn and I almost threw in the towel.  But I had been shooting my mouth off for the whole week saying I was going to do it.  So I bravely and painfully bit into the last two wings, eyeballing the glass of water like it was the keys to Fort Knox.  After two minutes and thirty three seconds, the last bit of habanero covered chicken was downed.  I had completed the Green Death Hot Sauce Challenge. 

As you can see from the pictures, I paid a little bit of a price.  The look on my face can only be described as one that knows I just completed a test of my will and endurance.  I probably drank a gallon of milk afterward to make sure my eyes didn’t pop out of my head.  But I am not done.  Soon there will be another mountain to climb.  Scotch Bonnet peppers.  Multiple times hotter than El Yucateco.  Higher degree of difficulty.  Time to go on Amazon and order the fifty gallon drum of Maalox.  And wherever you can find it, look for El Yucateco Sauces if you love anything spicy.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Did Dan Complete the Green Death Challenge?

Yes, I did complete the Green Death Hot Sauce Challenge.  There will be more information to follow tomorrow after I have given myself time to reflect on what I just put my body through.  That and I need to go on Amazon and order a bottle of Maalox big enough to fill a swimming pool with.  Thanks for reading.  The full report on the Green Death Challenge will be here tomorrow!  Don't forget to donate and thanks to El Yucateco for making the hottest thing I have ever far.

The Green Death Challenge Is Upon Us!

Right now, I am busy preparing myself mentally for one of my greatest challenges to date, the Green Death Hot Sauce Challenge.  To bring those of you that are new up to speed, I made an agreement with my wife that the first week of April I would attempt to ingest a half dozen chicken wings covered in a green habanero sauce called El Yucateco.  I may have bitten off a little more than I can chew on this one.  I used to eat this stuff with great regularity, but it has been some time since I have gone anywhere near it.  I took a long, well deserved break from eating ultra spicy foods and now I am making my comeback.  But I am not starting off small, I am going all out on this one.  If I make it through this, then possibly next month I will attempt a higher level of difficulty challenge.  Scotch Bonnet peppers.  From what I hear, these things are intensely hotter than the Green Death Sauce.  This stuff glows bright orange.  But that’s for another time.
So, in a few hours, I will be settling down at our dinner table.  My wife will put a plate of chicken wings in front of me covered in the hottest sauce I have eaten to date.  There will be no water or milk anywhere near me.  If I ask for a single drop of either to sooth my potentially scorched mouth, I will have not passed the challenge.  Since this was part of a wager, no doubt I will have to perform some form of humiliating task.  God only knows what is in store for me if I lose.  So stay tuned, If I pass this one, I am onto the Scotch Bonnet Deathtrap!  Oh, and there will be pictures!  Please donate to The Dan Experiment if you want to see me execute this challenge!