Thursday, June 29, 2006

A Judge who can't Keep it Up, and a Man who couldn't Make it go Down

Today's entry is in honor of the penis, and the lenghts (no pun intended) men will go to to use it...

Story one is about a judge in Oklahoma who is on trial for indecent exposure, after being caught using a penis pump in the courtroom, during court sessions...

---From the AP---
BRISTOW, Okla. - Serving on the jury in an indecent-exposure trial unfolding in this conservative Oklahoma town has been a giggle-inducing experience.

Former Judge Donald D. Thompson, a veteran of 23 years on the bench, is on trial on charges he used a penis pump on himself in the courtroom while sitting in judgment of others.

Over the past few days, the jurors have watched a defense attorney and a prosecutor pantomime masturbation. A doctor has lectured on the lengths the defendant was willing to go to enhance his sexual performance.

The white-handled sexual device sits before the jury box for hours at a time. Occasionally an attorney picks it up and squeezes the handle, demonstrating the "sh-sh" sound of air rushing through the contraption's plastic tubing.

The jurors sometimes exchange awkward looks and break into nervous laughter when the testimony takes a lurid turn.

Thompson, 59, is charged with four counts of indecent exposure, each punishable by up to 10 years in prison. If convicted, he would also have to register as a sex offender, and his $7,489.91-a-month pension would be in jeopardy.

Thompson's former court reporter, Lisa Foster, wiped away tears as she described tracing an unfamiliar "sh-sh" in the courtroom to her boss. She testified that between 2001 and 2003 she saw Thompson expose himself at least 15 times.

"I was really shocked and I was kind of scared because it was so bizarre," said Foster.

She testified that during a trial in 2002, she heard the pump during the emotional testimony of a murdered toddler's grandfather.

The grandfather "was getting real teary-eyed, and the judge was up there pumping on that pump," she said. "It was sickening."

The allegations came to light after a police officer who was in Thompson's court heard pumping sounds and took photos of the device during a break in the proceedings.

Thompson took the stand in his own defense, saying the device was a gag gift from a longtime friend with whom he had joked about erectile dysfunction. He said he kept the pump under the bench or in his office but didn't use it.

"In 20-20 hindsight, I should have thrown it away," he said.

The R-rated testimony has produced occasional outbursts of laughter and surreal scenes. A man who once served as a juror in Thompson's court testified that he never saw the device, but figured out what it was based on movies he had seen.

The comment sent sidelong glances through the courtroom.

"It sounded like a penis pump to me," Daniel Greenwood testified. He said he had seen such devices in "Austin Powers" and "Dead Man on Campus."

Dr. S. Edward Dakil, a urologist called as an expert witness, repeatedly prompted laughter from the jury when discussion turned to the penis pump. Dakil defended use of the device after defense attorney Clark Brewster said it was an out-of-date treatment for erectile dysfunction.

"I still use those," Dakil testified.

Brewster paused.

"Not you, personally?" he asked.

"No," Dakil responded as jurors laughed. "I recommend those as a urologist."

The second story is about a man who got a penile implant and ended up with more than he bargained for...

---From the AP---
PROVIDENCE, R.I. - A former handyman has won more than $400,000 in a lawsuit over a penile implant that gave him a 10-year erection.

Charles "Chick" Lennon, 68, received the steel and plastic implant in 1996, about two years before Viagra went on the market. The Dura-II is designed to allow impotent men to position the penis upward for sex, then lower it.

But Lennon could not position his penis downward. He said he could no longer hug people, ride a bike, swim or wear bathing trunks because of the pain and embarrassment. He has become a recluse and is uncomfortable being around his grandchildren, his lawyer said.

In 2004, a jury awarded him $750,000. A judge called that excessive and reduced it to $400,000. On Friday, the Rhode Island Supreme Court affirmed that award in a ruling that turned on a procedural matter.

"I don't know any man who for any amount of money would want to trade and take my client's life," said Jules D'Alessandro, Lennon's attorney. "He's not a whole person."

A lawyer representing both Dura-II manufacturer Dacomed Corp. and the company's insurer declined to comment. Dacomed maintained that nothing was wrong with the implant.

The implant consists of a series of plastic plates strung together with steel surgical wire, almost like a roll of wrapped coins. Springs press against the plates, creating enough surface tension to simulate an erection, D'Alessandro said.

Lennon cannot get the implant removed because of health problems, including open-heart surgery, his lawyer said. Impotence drugs could not help Lennon even if he were able to have the device taken out, because tissue had be to removed for it to be implanted.

Dacomed was later acquired by a California company whose sales dropped when Viagra was introduced on the market. The company filed for bankruptcy the following year.

Once again, fact is proving that fact is stranger than fiction. Hats off to the AP for covering the really hard stories. (Pun totally intended.)

But wait, there's more. I read this little gem from Reuters...

MULTAN, Pakistan (Reuters) - Fateh Mohammad, a prison inmate in Pakistan, says he woke up last weekend with a glass lightbulb in his anus.

Wednesday night, doctors brought Mohammad's misery to an end after a one-and-a-half hour operation to remove the object.

"Thanks Allah, now I feel comfort. Today, I had my breakfast. I was just drinking water, nothing else," Mohammad, a grey-beared man in his mid-40s, told Reuters from a hospital bed in the southern central city of Multan.

"We had to take it out intact," said Dr. Farrukh Aftab at Nishtar Hospital. "Had it been broken inside, it would be a very very complicated situation."

Mohammad, who is serving a four-year sentence for making liquor, prohibited for Muslims, said he was shocked when he was first told the cause of his discomfort. He swears he didn't know the bulb was there.

"When I woke up I felt a pain in my lower abdomen, but later in hospital, they told me this," Mohammad said.

"I don't know who did this to me. Police or other prisoners."

The doctor treating Mohammad said he'd never encountered anything like it before, and doubted the felon's story that someone had drugged him and inserted the bulb while he was comatose.

I guess while AP gets to do the hard news, Reuters is stuck with the crap.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Society of Law(yer)s

I’m sure that you’ve heard about the VA data breach. As a veteran, I am naturally staying abreast of the situation. After all, I am quite conceivably one of the people whose data was compromised. When this story broke, I was mildly irritated that my personal information may be compromised – especially considering that I am careful about protecting my personal information. I shred my paid bills, I check my credit record to make sure it’s accurate, I only carry one credit card and monitor its activity, and I buy very few things online. At the same time though, I understand that there’s ‘no use crying over spilt milk.’ What matters is that the VA announced the data breach and said they’d notify the high-risk individuals by mail. A few days later, I received my notification.

Since then, I found out that the VA planned to offer free credit monitoring for people who are potentially impacted by the data breach. I thought this was a great idea! Hey, I know they shouldn’t have messed up in the first place, but this step showed that the VA was serious about making amends. Well, some ambulance-chasing asshole lawyer has put his two cents in, and a judge has temporarily barred the VA from publishing this offer. Why? Because this “concerned” lawyer has started a class-action lawsuit against the VA, and ‘accepting this offer could jeopardize their chance of winning more money in a private suit.’

Look, you prick of an opportunistic attorney; I’m so pissed at you that I can’t even figure out where to start trashing you. (Note to readers: Please feel free to take a short break while I pause to quit frothing at the mouth and compose my thoughts…)

(…We now return you to our regularly scheduled blog entry.) For starters, you don’t have me fooled, you slimy fuck. Your stated argument is about jeopardizing my chance of winning more money (geez, you even say that like it’s a lottery, not a lawsuit), which makes it painfully obvious that it’s about the money, not about doing the right thing.

Next, you don’t offer the option of letting the veterans make their own decision. You phrase your request in such a manner that removes our ability to make a choice. Apparently you believe that we’re your children, not your (potential) clients.

Oh, and let’s not overlook the fact that you’re asking us to punish the VA, which is funded by taxpayers. Let’s assume the VA loses this pending litigation and is forced to pay some figure to a certain number of veterans. For argument’s sake, we’ll say that amount is $10 million. Guess what there, sleaze ball attorney, the Federal Government will simply raise that money by raising our taxes. For those of you who don’t understand that, it means that if I get a settlement from this, then Uncle Sam will just tax it back, so basically I’m paying my own settlement. Oh yeah, that makes a lot of sense.

And then there’s the single worst aspect of this. The VA is a non-profit organization that’s already stretched too thin. Their mission is to care for veterans, and they’re already so under funded that they can’t do this effectively. Now some self-serving gutter slime wants to take more money from their coffers simply to line his pockets (and oh yeah, give a token amount to other veterans who MAY have suffered a little bit), at the expense of veterans who truly became disabled defending our country.

There’s something you fail to understand there, gutter-sucking attorney. You are failing to understand the mentality of members of the United States armed services. You see, from our first day in boot camp, we were taught the concept of teamwork. We were taught that the mission is more important than the individual; we learned to watch each others’ backs; and we were taught to honor and respect those soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who were wounded or killed in the defense of our great nation. By your actions, you have disgraced yourself. You went beyond simply asking us to turn our backs on our brothers and sisters who rely on the VA. By barring the VA from publicizing their proposed solution, you have effectively deceived us and deprived us of the opportunity to make an informed decision.

I agree that the VA made a mistake. Heck, it wasn’t even the VA, it was the mistake of an employee who disregarded established policies and procedures. But the VA came forward, owned up to its mistake, tried to prevent things from getting worse, and offered a reasonable restitution. The VA acted honorably, unlike the dollar-chasing attorney.

If you are a veteran who values the VA, if you respect the sacrifices of our disabled brothers in arms, I ask you to turn your backs on this prospective settlement. Let the VA do what it’s supposed to do… treat sick and wounded patriots. Don’t make them waste their time defending a frivolous lawsuit.

A Ramble

You may have heard about the recent arrests of those folks in Miami and Atlanta who where plotting to blow up the Sears Tower. Naturally, the government is sounding their warnings, with law enforcement and terrorism experts expressing their concern. Here’s my two cents.

I’ve got to say that I’m completely NOT surprised that any branch of law enforcement is saying they’re concerned. By keeping the threat of terrorism constantly in our collective conscience, they can succeed in their desire for continually increasing funds for their bureaucracies, and pushing though legislation that erodes the rights and liberties of the average American citizen.

In tacit collusion with these bureaucracies, are those who desire security above all else, those who blindly believe the government’s alarmist cries. They echo the government officials who say “Gee if you’ve got nothing to hide, then you shouldn’t mind this illegal wire tapping.” Sorry, but I don’t agree. I didn’t spend six years in the military defending Washington’s right to censor, erode or legislate our Constitutional rights into non-existence. This isn’t a question of whether or not I have something to hide. This is a question of whether or not I have the right to hide something; and it’s the question of whether or not I have the right to say that our society is giving up its basic freedoms to a corrupt governmental establishment, in the name of a false security. It’s time to end this charade.

Maybe the government should start understanding that these “homegrown terrorists” are not necessarily fighting on the side of al-Queda, but they are fighting against the tyranny that is our own government. The government that is supposed to help keep us free is the same government that has used every opportunity to gather more power, invade our lives and destroy our privacy.

I’m not advocating a violent overthrow of the government, but I have definitely reached the point where I detest my government enough to understand the mentality of those who do want a coup.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Request of a Dying Man

I was talking to my mom last night, and during our chat, we talked about my grandfather, the subject of today’s writing. Contrary to the title and the beginning of the story, this isn’t a bad memory.

I remember seeing my grandfather during his final weeks. His body was trashed… nothing left but skin and bones, but his brain still worked. His voice was shaky, yet he managed a faint smile and told me in a raspy, whisper-quiet voice that he was glad to see me. I was one of the later people to arrive, so he started our conversation based on what he’d already discussed with other family members, and he came right to the point.

“I don’t want to die, but if it’s time I’m not scared of it either. My body hurts and I just want it to stop. If that means I die, well, I’m ready.”

“Well grandpa,” I replied, “I don’t want you to die either, but if it’s time, I know you’re ready and I can accept that. If you don’t make it, I want you to know I’ll miss you. Is there anything you want me to do for you?”

“Do you remember that school paper you wrote about me a few years back?”


“I’d like you to read it at my funeral.”

“Okay.” That was something I hadn’t expected. He and I had an awesome relationship, but I was stunned and honored that he’d just asked me to speak at his funeral. “What else would you like me to do?” I phrased my question intentionally, so he knew that I was prepared to do whatever he asked, as long as it was in my power.

“I’d like you to find a song and have it played at the memorial service, but I can’t remember the name of the song or who does it.”

“Can you give me a line from the song?”

“I’ll never tell another white lie.”

“Okay grandpa. I’ll find the song for you. If you can remember any more of it before I leave, let me know.”

We talked for a little bit longer, but he soon became too tired to concentrate. I went out and visited the rest of the family for a while as he slept. In a couple of hours, he woke up again and called me back to his room.

“The name of the group that sings that song is something Smith and the Redheads.”

“Great. That’ll make my search a lot easier.”

Later that night I went home and started searching for the song. I did a Google search, using the information he provided – “I’ll never tell another white lie,” and “Smith and the Redheads.” I was surprised as hell with the results. The group was actually named “Something Smith and the Redheads.” When he said “something,” I figured he couldn’t remember the first name. And then I read the lyrics. I laughed my ass off. My grandfather’s favorite song – the one he wanted played at his funeral – was a song about getting stuck with an ugly chick!

When it’s my turn to go, I want this played at my funeral.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Redneck Gourmet

Here's one of my longtime favorites. I call it "Super Bakers." Basically, it's a giant baked potato topped with whatever I feel like adding. Last night's toppings were butter, sour creme, a sauteed mix of onions red peppers and onions, cheese sauce, bacon bits, steamed broccoli, and some sun-dried tomatoes. It's one of the easiest things you'll ever make, it's relatively healthy, and dirt cheap.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Philly Cheese Brat

Every now and again, I come up with a truly original, unique culinary idea. That's what happened a few days ago. I took a longstanding midwestern grilling favorite and added a decidedly east-coast flair. The result is a dish that I've dubbed Philly Cheese Brat. It's a bratworst smothered in sauteed mushrooms and onions, drizzled in homemade cheese sauce.

Friday, June 9, 2006

My Father's Eyes

Last night I had an idea for a story. The text below is the introduction. Please let me know what you think...

As I walked in to the hospital room and saw my father resting on the bed, I was so overwhelmed by the range of emotions flooding my conscience that I suffered a brief instant of disorientation. I looked at my dad, his gaunt body ravaged by illness, and I barely recognized him. This shadow of a man who occupied the bed in front of me was a stark contrast to the giant who gently yet firmly guided me through my formative years, the father who wistfully stood in the doorway of my childhood home when it was time for me to spread my wings and explore the world as an adult. Seeing that he was semi-conscious, I choked back my feelings, put on a brave face, took his hand in my own, and sat on the edge of the bed, smiling at him. I couldn’t escape the irony of the situation, as I recalled the countless times he had quietly sat on the edge of my bed and comforted me when I was ill as a child. But that was a long time ago.

Somewhere along the line, dad and I had grown apart. I still loved the man, and knew he loved me. But I moved far away, became absorbed in day-to-day life, and we slowly drifted our separate ways. Initially, I thought of him all the time and called him frequently. As time progressed though, our contact became less and less frequent, and our conversations became shorter and more superficial. Eventually, we settled in to a routine where I’d call him on special occasions, and we’d end up talking about the weather. Now, I realize that I still love the man, but I no longer know him, and seeing him rolling in and out of consciousness drove home the realization that I may never again have the chance to become reacquainted with him.

Thursday, June 8, 2006

A Message from Beyond the Grave

Most people don't know this about me, but I was a medium in one of my former jobs. That's right, I spoke to the dead. To most people, I'm sure this sounds fascinating and exciting, but in all honesty, it downright sucked! The conversations were invariably boring or depressing, my friends (and sometimes total strangers) kept asking me to do stupid shit like trying to contact their dead cat Mitzy. (For the last time people, pets don't go to heaven!) Without a doubt though, getting a message from the grave was worse than trying to get a communique to the other side.

You see, the dead don't think of time in the same way that we do, they don't need to sleep, and they tend to be a little obsessive-compulsive. The end result is that spirits tend to be a little inconsiderate in their attempts to contact the living, and they always contacted me at inopportune moments... when I'm sleeping, when I'm trying to read a book, and so forth. I finally decided to quit the medium business when a particularly selfish spectre started nagging me during sex. Talk about a mood killer!

The thing is, I was a really good medium, and I had a solid reputation among the dead - a reputation that stands to this day. So despite the fact that I'm no longer death's messenger, I am still occasionally contacted by the recently departed. That's what happened last night. I was really surprised, because I hadn't yet seen the news so I didn't know that al-Zarqawi was killed, but I was also pissed. Once again, a selfish spirit thought that his message was more important than my beauty rest.

When I heard that it was al-Zarqawi though, my interest was piqued, despite the fact that he woke me up from a really cool dream. Al-Zarquawi asked me to deliver a few messages. In the interest of humanity, I agreed to relay the information. (Before I do though, I want it to be known in no uncertain terms that I am NOT back in the medium business. So don't start writing me and asking me to contact your recently departed uncle Joe.)

Al-Zarqawi's Messages:

To the American Military: I am not going to be a poor sport. You beat me fair and square. I broke every rule in the book, and you still ended up winning. Congratulations. I bear you no ill will. You are honorable warriors.

To my followers: Do not despair. My sources here tell me that you will be joining me soon.

To Osama bin Laden: Osama, you suck! You lied to me! There are no virgins here. In fact, I'm not in heaven at all. I'm really pissed at you, but I'm even more disappointed in myself. After all, I'm a smart guy. I can't believe I fell for your bullshit rhetoric.

To the American People: In death I finally understand that you really do want peace for my people, and I have discovered a new respect for you. Your president is still a dumbass though.