Thursday, December 23, 2010

test drive

Last night I visited Reliable Medical to test drive a few wheelchairs. I'm 99% sure I'm going to go with the Quantum Q6 Edge, which sounds more like a car from Infinity than a chair.

If the manufacturer's web site is correct, driving a Quantum chair f*cking rocks! Visit their home page & click the "Q6 Feel the Power" link. You'll see a guy tearing through gravel and zipping along uneven pavement while a Steve Vai-esque soundtrack blares.


Monday, December 6, 2010

power wheels

I recently started the power wheelchair selection process. Today I was measured for a chair (they are custom built) and I got to test drive one.

There are several different control configurations to choose from. There are some that perform better than others on grass or gravel. It's important to choose the model that best fits your needs.

With that in mind, I came up with some questions to ask to make sure you get the chair that's right for you.

  • Are the foot rests adjustable?
  • Can the seat height be raised?
  • Where's the cup holder?
  • Where's the flux capacitor?
  • How often should I change the oil?
  • Is there a bottle opener on this thing?
  • Does this model have a manual or automatic transmission?
  • Does it come with a wheelie bar, or is that optional?
  • Can I get it with all-wheel drive and a roll cage?
  • Hypothetically speaking, if I strapped water skis to the chair — would a 125hp outboard have enough power to pull me?
  • On a scale of one to ten, how bulletproof is the chair?
  • Would I void the warranty if I took the chair to a pool & drove it off the high dive? What about the low dive?
  • If the battery dies, will the motor run on whiskey? Follow up question; does piloting this chair while intoxicated meet the legal definition of 'drunk driving' in the state of Minnesota?
  • Is there an ap that would allow me to control the chair from my iPhone?
  • Does the battery pack enough voltage to jump start a car? How about a human heart?
  • Could the chair out maneuver a police car... in theory, of course.
  • Would dressing up as Stephen Hawking for Halloween be too obvious?
  • How do I join the National Wheelchair Drag Racing Association? Also, is there a National Wheelchair Drag Racing Association?
  • Do you know of any good wheelchair urban legends I could suggest to The Mythbusters?
  • Can the seat back recline?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

last call

Orders for the ALS Assassination Squad t-shirts keep coming in, so we are doing another print run. You have until Friday December 3rd to get your order in. Size info is on my website, email me your sizes/quantities.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Part of my job (a small part) involves subtitling our training videos in various languages. It's a copy & paste job — not difficult, but kinda boring. To make it interesting, I listen to music from my subtitle language's country of origin. For example, when I worked on Swedish subtitles I listened to Opeth and The Hives. When I worked on Portuguese I listened to Seu Jorge.

This week I'm subtitling in German. My soundtrack has been a German group my sister introduced me to — speed metal band Accept. I present, for your head banging pleasure, their biggest hit... Fast as a Shark.

Fast. As a goddamn Shark. I don't even know what that means, but I love it!

YouTube also has this live version, intercut with 20 seconds of the lead singer in a speedo flying a radio controlled airplane for some reason. The twin Flying V attack at 2:15 will melt your face off.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

vote for the ALS Association

The Star Tribune (Minneapolis newspaper) is donating a full page ad to a local non-profit organization selected by an online poll. The ad will run in a Sunday edition, seen by more than a million readers. You can nominate the ALS Association, Minnesota/North Dakota Chapter by voting here.

You are required to register with an email address, which is kinda annoying, but it's for a good cause.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

this old (remodeled) house

I'm finally getting around to posting remodel pictures. In order to make our little 1938 house wheelchair accessible, we needed to totally redo the bathroom, widen hallways, and figure out a way to get from the garage to the house without going up or down stairs. We met with a few different contractors, and finally decided to go with AccessAbility Options. That was pretty much the best decision we ever made. They were awesome.

Getting right to it, here is what our dinky little bathroom used to look like.

Then, it looked like this for a while;

Eventually, we ended up with this;

The shower drain was moved to the center of the shower area, and the shower floor slopes gently in that direction. It will allow me to roll on in there when I can no longer walk. Also, the new fixtures, lights and tile totally kick ass. That doesn't relate to accessibility in any way, I'm just really happy with our choices.

Just outside the bathroom is our little hallway. It used to have doorjambs at each end, which were removed, and a hard corner right here where this little cutout is.

Now it looks like this. Surly the cat is demonstrating how much easier it is to make the new wider corner.

Our back door was down one step from the main level of the house. There was no way to bring the door up without messing up the interior stairs, so we figured we should put a new one in. This window seemed like the logical spot, so out it went...

...and in went a new back door.

The new door opens onto our fabulous new deck;

it's quite a bit bigger than the old one, and it's 9 inches taller so I'll be able to roll from the garage, down the "dock"... the deck and into the house without having to go up or down hills or steps.

Construction is on hold for now. We'll pick up again next spring when we put in that half-pipe so I can do stuff like this:

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

i voted

i just voted with the help of a ballot-oval-filler-inner-machine thingy. after watching me struggle to sign in, the friendly precinct election officials asked if i wanted to try it out. hell yes i did!

the machine scanned my ballot first. then, it presented each race one at a time on a touch screen. the candidates names showed up as buttons—just tap your choice and move on. it's like someone crossed democracy with an iPad. after i finished filling out my ballot, the machine filled in all the little ovals an spat the ballot out.

side note; you may be one of the many americans who think the very future of humanity hinges on tonight's election results. whether your guy wins or looses, i encourage you to watch the video below. it will make an election, or any contest for that matter, seem utterly insignificant.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


our house has been in various states of disrepair for three weeks now. well, not 'disrepair' — more like disassembled. a construction crew is busy making our abode wheelchair accessible. there isn't always power or wifi, so i've been slacking on the blog.

work should be done next week. i'll post pictures of our wheeler-friendly updates. in the meantime, here's a halloween costume idea for anyone out there with ALS.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


About 10 minutes after I came up with the design for this year's ALS walk shirts, I thought to myself, “that would make a kick-ass tattoo.” Turns out it does make a pretty kick-ass tattoo.


I went to St. Sabrina's in uptown to get a price quote, and to ask about tweaking or shading my design. they had an opening, so I figured “what the hell?”

It's worth mentioning that St. Sabrina's has one tattoo room on the main floor, and the rest are upstairs. Stairs are kind of scary for me to navigate. Taylor, my artist, was nice enough to leave her upstairs station and come down to the main level to do my tattoo. Good stuff.

I've tried to convince Marney and that she should get a giant tattoo of my skull on her back. She wasn't having it.

I need to think of a nickname for my design. So far the front runner is disabilideath, but I think I can do better.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Thank You ALS Assassination Squad

Thank you very much to everyone that came to the Minneapolis ALS walk last weekend. I really appreciate all of the support. The ALS Assassination Squad t-shirts were a huge hit at the walk, so we are doing another print run. You have until October 15th to get your order in. Order info is on my website.

Here is one of our youngest assassins. Don't be afraid to order a onesie, they're adorable!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

traffic Stop

It's been a long time since I was behind the wheel of a car. In fact, I haven't driven since I busted my head back in June. The other day, I saw a dash-cam video of a cop administering a field sobriety test. the suspect was, of course, failing with flying colors. It got me thinking, “what would happen if I were pulled over for suspected drunk driving?”

It would probably be hilarious. Here is my hypothetical traffic stop;

*this scene starts with meme being pulled over on a city street.

Officer #1: “good evening sir. Do you know why I pulled you over?”
Me: “hi, yeah, I uh, kinda swerved back there. I lost my grip on the wheel because I have AL...”
Officer #1: “have you been drinking tonight, sir?”
Me: “no. I'm just heading home from work and my hand slipped beca...”
Officer #1: (cutting me off again) “can I see your license and registration sir?”
Me: * Struggles to open glovebox, can't quite get it open
Officer #1: “please step out of the car sir.”
Me: “oh, okay.”

*I fumble to open the door, and very slowly and cautiously stand up.

Officer #1: “Would you follow me to the back of the car sir?”
Me: “okay.”
Officer #1: “I'm going to give you a field sobriety test. I believe you've been drinking. Are you sure you don't want to tell me the truth?”
Me: “but I wasn't drinking, my hands are weak from A...”
Officer #1: (cuts me off) “please hold your head still, and follow my pen with your eyes.”
*I follow his pen with my eyes
Officer #1: “very good. Now I want you to stand on 1 foot, and recite the alphabet.”
Me: (stands on 1 foot) “A, B, C, D, E, (Wobbles, almost puts foot down) F, G, H, I... whoa!” (nearly falls, puts foot down)
Officer #1:(Activates his radio and calls for backup) “okay, that's enough of that. Sir, I want you to stand with your feet together, put your arms straight out, and touch your index fingers to your nose.”
Me: (struggles to raise arms, they fall back down repeatedly)
Officer #1: “follow my instructions!”
Me: “I'm trying! But my arms don't work because of AL...”
Officer #1: “because you're drunk.”
Me: “no! It's because...”
Officer #1: “ are you getting belligerent with me?”

*Officer #1 prepares to unholster his gun.

Me: “no, I keep trying to tell you that I ...”
Officer #1: “I want you to turn around, face the trunk of your car, and place your hands on your head.”

*Officer #2 arrives as backup, and joins Officer #1.

Officer #2: “What's the problem here?”
Officer #1: “This drunk is refusing to follow instructions.”
Me: “Man, I keep telling you that...”
Officer #2: “Keep quiet and put your hands on your head now!”

*I struggle to put my hands on my head, but can't lift them above my shoulders.

Officer #2: (Draws his taser) “hands on your head!”
Officer #1: “He's not going to comply. hit him!”

Officer #2: (zaps me with his taser, I fall to the ground and flop about like a fish out of water.)

Me: (* foams at mouth)
Officer #1: “now put your hands on your head, or we'll taze you again”
Me: (*struggles to put my hands on my head) “please don't taze me, bro!”
Officer #2: “You've got 5 seconds to put your hands on your head.”
Me: “I can't! I have ALS!”
Officer #2: “The hell is ALS?”
Officer #1: “I think it's like PCP! Hit him again!”

Officer #2: (zaps me with his taser again, I flop around for a few minutes)

Officer #1: (calls dispatch on his radio) “dispatch this is unit 612, I have a uncooperative driver high on ALS, requesting ambulance, over.”
Dispatch: “say again 612, high on what? Over.”
Officer #1: “ALS, that's Alpha, Lima, Sierra, over.”
Dispatch: “ be advised 612, ALS is a degenerative motor neuron disease, not a form of amphetamine. Over.”
Officer #1: “copy that, dispatch. Uh cancel that ambulance request. Over.”

*several moments of stunned silence.

Officer #2: “Oh boy.”
Officer #1: “Yeah...”
Me: “I told you!”
Officer #1: “Okay, son. We'll make this right.”
Officer #2: “Absolutely, were sorry for not understanding you.”
Me: “how do you plan on making this right?!?”

Officer #1: “Can we buy you a beer?”

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

repeat after me

Here's a good mantra for anyone with ALS. It's sorta like a positive affirmation, but with more swearing.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


we're placing our t-shirt order tomorrow (friday) afternoon. get yours here.

Friday, August 27, 2010


i just realized that i posted the als walk shirt artwork, but neglected to post ordering info. my friend ali is taking orders this year, and ordering info is here:

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

final(ish) shirt design...

...will look very similar to this. rock.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

this year's walk shirt so far...

If it doesn't haunt your dreams, I didn't do my job.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

pretty pictures

Yesterday I took some time out from designing T-shirts to make three ALS Assassination Squad computer desktop images. They can be downloaded from my revamped website.

F.Y.I.- It takes 5 hours to create a cold war era Soviet propaganda poster.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

T-shirt ideas

Here are my first two design ideas for this year's AlS walk team shirt. They are a bit more hardcore than last year. I recommend listening to this while you look at the designs. Click for a larger view.

Option one:

Option two:

We are planing on printing kids shirts again this year, so I don't think option two has much of a chance. However, it might look really cool on a bumper sticker.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

i'm toast

Apparently I died earlier this week. The weather channel said so.

I guess my ghost can use a computer.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

i love crackpots

Every now and then, I come across a website that just blows my mind. Yesterday I was treated to a real doozy.

A fella named Marty wrote me a (very long) e-mail to let me know that he can “help people solve ALS.” According to him, you can think year way out of just about any medical condition including; allergies, alzheimers, autism, cancer, diabetes, and hair loss.

That's right, hair loss.

You have to check out this dude's website,, because it is amazing. This page is particularly helpful If you have ALS.

Monday, July 26, 2010

fun and games, well games anyway

One of the drawbacks of having hands that don't function properly is that I can't play most computer games. Console games, like the old school Nintendo I grew up with, require opposable thumbs, which I lack. PC-based games are even more complicated. Many require using both the mouse and keyboard simultaneously. these days, I can move the mouse and click. Believe it or not, that allows me to do well over 90% of my job. I love you, Photoshop.

Here are a few fun games for all of my hand-challenge friends out there:

Bubble Spinner
this game is very simple and terribly addicting. Just shoot little colored balls at balls of the same color to make them disappear. Do not play this at work, it will ruin productivity for the rest of your day.

Hedgehog Launch
a game where you launch a hedgehog into space... A situation I'm sure we're all familiar with. It takes a click/drag with the mouse, any use of the arrow keys to steer. The soundtrack kind of rocks too.

Crush the Castle
This is one of my all time favorite online games. Click once to get your catapult swinging, click again to release your projectile. it gets really fun once you earn explosives. Once you've mastered to the original, check out the Players Pack version.

This game is pure 8-bit awesomeness. Controls are only one button. Press the C key to jump as your little pixel man runs through a crumbling city. Pro tip: the longer you run, the more speed you pick up. Hit a box every now and then to slow down.

Blosics 2
this is a fun little physics shooter. There are piles of things, and apparently you don't like them. Click and drag to shoot them. Repeat as needed.

Another fun physics game. This one involves sawing logs via click and drag, and making a little smiley face roll around.

Gimme Friction Baby
a fun but frustrating physics shooter with the best music of any game on this list.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Useful things for the gimp in your life

It's been a while since I put actual useful information on my blog. I know from looking at my analytics that quite a few people arrive here after searching for info on ALS or Monomelic amyotrophy. so, I decided to throw together a post comprised of gadgets and tips I use on a daily basis. Starting off with;

Mac dictate
this is the dictation software I use to write e-mails and blog posts. It is very accurate and very useful. Occasionally it does interesting things with spacing and capitalization. The only draw back is that I can't listen to music while I'm dictating. I've tried it before, and I end up with three quarters of a coherent e-mail with James Brown lyrics interspersed.
Uuhh! Get on up! More on it here.

Bendy Straws

Bendy straws are awesome. You already know this. I have a stash at home and at work, should a beverage situation arise. There are more than a dozen Pro-bendy straw groups on Facebook. The largest one has over 7000 fans. People are weird.

Apple likes to say that all of their products will somehow change the world. In the case of the iPhone, that's actually true. I could not make phone calls with out it. A standard cordless telephone is too heavy for me to hold to my ear. My last cell phone had buttons that were too difficult for my weak fingers to press. The touch-sensitive iPhone, combined with this headset, makes talking on the phone possible for someone as weak as me.

zipper pull

My dad invented this handy little tool. I have them all over the house now. It's simply a 3 to 4 inch piece of quarter or 3/8 inch dowel with a little screw-in metal hook in the end. It gives me something large enough to hold onto so I can zip a jacket or pants or whatever.

rocker knife

I have talked about the rocker knife many times before, but it bears repeating. Get yourself a rocker knife.

That is all.


I found this utensil in the camping cookware section of REI. It's made out of titanium, so it's ridiculously light. however, the best thing about it is the flat handle. Most of the silverware designed for disabled people has big fat handles. A fat handle would be great if my thumb worked. since it doesn't, a wide flat handle is easier for me to grasp.

I think a lot of the utensils and other items designed for disabled people would be a lot more useful if the designers would talk to a disabled person every now and then. it's not like we're hard to find. Just hang out near a handicapped parking space long enough, and a disabled product tester will find you.


This thing is what I use to drink 90% of my beverages. its a double wall insulated pint glass with a (mostly) leakproof lid. it has a big fat, heavy duty reusable straw as well.

Camelbak better bottle
it's a water bottle with a built-in straw, and a loop on the lid that makes carrying and opening it a breeze.

here is a post I did earlier about kitchen gadgets that might be useful to other gimpy gourmets.

How about a bike without hand brakes?

Sunday, July 4, 2010

drug trials part three

Today I pay homage to the inventor of some of the most “creative” drug trials the world has ever seen. His ability to combine various controlled substances was matched only by the volume of substances consumed.

I'm talking, of course, about Keith Moon.
(not pictured: sanity)

His drumming, for The Who, was absolutely insane. His ability to destroy hotel rooms was even more insane. He once celebrated his birthday by drunkenly parking a car at the bottom of a swimming pool.

My favorite Keith Moon drug trial took place on November 20, 1973. He passed out an hour into their show after consuming a huge amount of animal tranquilizers mixed with brandy. These weren't “mellow your dog out at the vet's office” drugs, these were “drop a charging rhino in its tracks” drugs. before consuming said drugs, he was heard to remark, "Of course I can take it! I'm Keith F**king Moon!" Unfortunately, he could not take it.

Cool side note, Pete Townsend asked the crowd if anyone there knew how to play drums. A kid named Scot Halpin did, so he jumped on stage and played the rest of the show. In true Keith Moon style, the band gave Scot a shot of brandy to calm his nerves before he played.

Despite Moon's truly inspiring and innovative drug trials, I will not be following his lead. It would probably be fun for a while, but the fun ends with an overdose of Clomethiazole.

Also, I am not a fan of brandy.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

drug trials part two

Well, I couldn't find any heroin, so I had to skip the Keith Richards drug trial. I have a new plan now. I'm going to base my next drug trial on the “research” of a pro athlete.

I'm not talking about the performance-enhancing type of drugs most pro athletes would use. This is way more unconventional. A fella named Dock Ellis performed some amazing feats of self-medication while playing pro baseball in the 1970s.

In his finest hour, Ellis pitched a no-hitter while bombed out of his gourd on LSD. Here is one of his personal highlights from the game;

“I started having a crazy idea in the fourth inning that Richard Nixon was the home plate umpire, and once I thought I was pitching a baseball to Jimi Hendrix, who to me was holding a guitar and swinging it over the plate.”

The man was clearly a visionary. Granted, most of his visions were whacked out hallucinations... but they still count for something.

Here's Dock telling this story in his own words:

side note; this might be my favorite thing on YouTube.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

drug trials

A friend of mine recently asked if I was doing any ALS drug trials. The last time my clinic was doing a trial, it required being on Rilutek, which I have previously stated sucks, and daily injections of some other drug. My hands aren't coordinated enough to use a syringe so I had to pass on that one.

It got me thinking, maybe I should start my own drug trial. Full disclosure: I don't know one damn thing about pharmacology. Although, it seems like a lot of the doctors researching ALS don't know a whole hell of a lot about pharmacology either. They have been doing drug studies for years and it hasn't made one bit of difference. I certainly can't do any worse.

So, for the rest of this week, or until I get bored with it, I'll propose some drug trials of my own design.

First off is the Keith Richards approach.

Keith has been tried on drug charges five times. He was once busted by the Royal Canadian mounted police with 22 g of heroin on his person. I have to say... that's pretty awesome. Who the hell gets busted by Mounties with enough smack in his pocket that it constitutes “possession for the purpose of trafficking”? On the side he smoked more grass than just about anyone.

Also, he looks like this.
(Not a mummy, this man is actually alive)

I don't know if Keith Richards is the luckiest man alive or just has incredible genes. Most people couldn't walk in his shoes for a weekend, yet he did it for 40 years. I'd like to say I'll be starting the Richards drug trial soon, but I have no idea where to buy heroin.

I do know how to find Mounties-they are just a 5 hour drive north. But without illegal opiates, I'd just to be another tourist.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

they say bad things come in threes...

...Which is why I decided to break my eye socket in three places. You'd think two would have been enough. I was just showing off. Want to see what a broken eye socket looks like up close?

Look at that! Wow!! Can you believe that? My sideburns are out of control!

Oh, it seems I've also demolished my face.

Here's another view of my beautiful baby blues.

Uhh, I mean bloodshot reds.

My modeling career is over before it began. Fortunately, most people don't mind if their web designer looks kinda like Joseph Merrick.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

I ain't pretty no more

Well, the good news is I thought of a new name for my blog. The bad news is, I had to break my face to do it. Check it out:

I was walking along at work, when I stubbed my toe on the carpet. I tried to catch myself, but with arms as weak as mine that really isn't an option. So I decided to break my fall with my face. I bet it looked pretty cool. I don't remember though, as I was unconscious for a moment. (Pro-tip: if you have ALS, and you can't break your fall, try to wipe out near a couch, or some soft grass, or anything that hurts less than a hard office floor.)

When I came to, I was surrounded by very concerned looking coworkers. Some friendly police officers were already there to make sure I was okay. I remember them asking me questions, but I'm sure my answers made no sense. I was pretty out of it. They asked what I was doing when I fell, and I couldn't really remember. After a few minutes some friendly paramedics came to take me to the emergency room. I remember hearing my coworkers discuss which hospital I should go to, and who should call my wife to tell her, but I don't recall the details.

The paramedics wheeled me down stairs into a waiting ambulance. Once they had me strapped in, they asked me a few questions to ascertain what mental state I was in;

paramedic 1: "do you know what day it is?"
Me: "Friday"-I actually had to think about that one for a couple of seconds
Paramedic 1: "do you know what month it is?"
Me: "June"
paramedic 1: "do you know who the president is?"
Me: "Obama"
(brief pause)
Me: "I thought you were going to try to throw me for a loop with that last question"
Paramedic 2: "if we were going to throw you for a loop, we would have asked you for the air speed velocity of an unladen swallow."
Me: "African or European swallow?"
Paramedic 2: (laughing) "I knew I liked this guy!"
Paramedic 1: "yeah, you're going to be okay."

For the uninitiated, the African or European swallow is an old Monty Python bit. You can watch the setup here, and the punchline here.

As soon as the paramedic made the Python joke, I immediately snapped out of my woozy, foggy state. Activating the hilarity center of my brain somehow brought me back to reality. I remembered what I was doing before I fell, I remembered what I had for lunch, and I remembered watching one of my coworkers trying to fix my glasses after I embedded them in my eyebrow. (Pro-tip: remove your glasses before falling on your face.)

But the fun doesn't stop there! I enjoyed a leisurely ride to Hennepin County Medical Center with my new Monty Python fan friends. The ambulance driver didn't use the lights or siren, so I figured I was going to be fine. Hell, he didn't even run red lights or use the carpool lane! This gave my wife and coworker, JJ, plenty of time to get to the hospital and meet me in the ER.

A couple of doctors looked at me, then sent me for a CT scan. While I was back in my room, awaiting my scan results, all of the rooms around me filled up. Eventually a doctor popped in and said my brain wasn't swelling or anything bad, but it looked like I had a fracture on my cheek/eye socket.

"Well," I thought to myself, "that explains the headache I have." Seriously, this headache was horrible. It felt like I got punched in the face by a hangover. One of the nurses gave me a dose of oxycodone which basically made me dizzy but didn't take away the pain. I don't know why the hell people would abuse that drug! Tylenol was more effective.

Anyway, the doctor wanted to have a surgeon look at my scan and decide if my busted face required surgery. So, I waited a little while longer. Eventually, the nurse came in and very apologetically explained that they had to move me out into the hallway to wait for the surgeon. They had a patient with a heart condition coming in, and they needed to put him in my room because it housed the heart monitoring equipment.

I told them that there was no need to apologize, I wasn't in that bad of shape. (After all, I only broke my face) So, off I went into the hall to wait for the surgeon.

The patient with the heart condition arrived in handcuffs.

He was a prisoner. A goddamn prisoner in a bright orange jumpsuit booted me out of my room! As soon as he lay down on the bed, the cop he was with un-cuffed one arm, then cuffed him to the bed. Marney and I looked at each other like, "there is no way that just happened."

From what I was able to overhear, the prisoner had not taken his blood pressure medication. I guess out of whack blood pressure supersedes a busted face. But, come on! Couldn't they put him in jeans and a T-shirt?! I wouldn't feel that bad about getting bumped from my room by a regular guy with a heart condition. At least try to disguise that he's a convict! I half-hoped we were about to see an elaborate prison escape. Unfortunately, the con just complained about chest pains.

The surgeon finally swung by my hallway respite to inform me that my busted face could wait until Monday. I have to see an ear/ nose/ throat specialist in two days. The specialist will decide if my fractured eye socket needs surgery or not. In the meantime, Tylenol and ice are my best friends.

That long, convoluted, convict-tinged story brings me to the new name of my blog. It started off as Monomelic-Amyotrophy-Tastic! then changed to Probable ALS, Definite Hilarity. Now it will be something along the lines of, "I know it's sad, but I can't stop laughing."

At least three different people have heard about my disease, looked at my blog, and said exactly "I know it's sad, but I can't stop laughing!" Well, good! That is precisely what I was going for. No point in being sullen all the time.

I thought about naming my blog "I know it's sad, but I can't stop laughing" a week ago. The Monty Python incident with the paramedic cemented it for me. Laughter pulled me out of a semi-conscious daze, and got me through three hours of searing pain in the emergency room. it might as well be the namesake of my blog.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Finally, something to post

I haven't made much progress on my neuron cartoon. Fortunately, I learned a few animation lessons today working on something else. Here's a little short about a blood platelet for my sister in law's blog. Be sure to click through to the vimeo site for the full HD experience.

Johanna's platelets have the blues from colin farbotko on Vimeo.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Okay, I've got nothing

I've been thinking about it for a week, and I can not, for the life of me, come up with a funny acronym to replace PALS.

If you have a good one, please leave it in the comments. Yes, I realize I'm asking you to do my job for me. well, technically I'm asking you to wright my blog for me.

I'm okay with that.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Man, I am busy

My sweet neuron cartoon is on the back burner at the moment. I promise I'll get to it soon.

In the meantime, May is ALS awareness month. I get all sorts of e-mails from the Minnesota ALS Society, where they frequently reference PALS.

PALS stands for persons with ALS. I'm sorry, but that is about the lamest acronym ever. So, while I'm putting my cartoon on hold, I'll try to think of a better acronym for people with ALS.

I can't do much worse than PALS.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Meet Mr. Neuron

Just don't get too attached, he'll be dead soon.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

and so it begins

I'm starting to work on my motor neuron cartoon this weekend. the first step will be writing some sort of script. I figure I should actually research this and make sure I'm animating accurate information. Step two will be creating all my little cartoon elements In Flash. I'll start with the little neurons from my website game and Go from there.

I'd like to do this in a BBC nature documentary style, sarcastically narrated by Eric Idle of Monty Python. I don't think I can afford him. I guess I'll need to start working on my British accent.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

the speakers have spoken

Voting is now closed, with 'both, you lazy bastard' in first place, followed closely by the cartoon. So, I will dust off my Foley sounds, fire up Flash, and animate a tale of motor neurons loved and lost.

Also related to my last post; Worthington, Indiana is a town in Jefferson Township with a population of 1,481 at the 2000 census. The median age was 40 years old. For every 100 females there were 87.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 82.7 males.

If you're a guy in Worthington, odds are pretty good (statistically, anyway) you'll snag a little lady! It could be slim pickings for the gals in town. Sorry girls, you're screwed (figuratively, not literally).

Smashing wordplay, no?

Thursday, April 8, 2010


A long time ago, I got in the habit of tracking usage of my various websites. As a web designer, it helps me see what works and what doesn't. Here are some interesting facts (via Google Analytics) about this blog. In the past six months;
  • 880 unique users have visited the blog over 4000 times.
  • 30 different countries have visited, including Thailand, Russia, Sweden, Argentina, Canada, Croatia, Norway and Singapore.
  • Visitors from 35 states have been to my blog.
  • Worthington, Indiana has visited my blog more than any other city. Worthington visits more than any state, except Minnesota. Either someone there is doing motor neuron research, or I have a stalker.
  • The most clicked on label/tag is 'rocker knife'.
  • The most viewed individual post is this one. I have no idea why it is so popular.
  • The most popular search term that leads people to my blog is "colin als hilarity" followed by "farbotko blogspot" and "hipster beard".

Hipster beard takes you here. I'm amazed at how many people are researching hipster facial hair. They should just go here.

And now for a weird one: Someone arrived at this blog after Googling "i keep getting a mouthful of foam." What. The. Hell?

Who in their right mind has a mouthful of foam so often they had to Google it?!?! I've never found myself with a mouthful of foam and thought, "Oh, not this again! Why am I always finding myself in this predicament?"

I'm the fifth search result on Google. The first three are pages about pouring beer, the fourth is about toothpaste, and mine is about drinking pop.

Don't forget to vote in the poll on the sidebar. I'm off to make a T-shirt that says "I'm big in Worthington".

Monday, April 5, 2010

tell me what to do next

i'm trying to decide which wacky thing i should do next on this blog. My options are;

1) Produce the BBQ sauce commercial I hypothesized in my last post.


2) Make a short cartoon about the lives of motor neurons—before and after ALS.

Vote for your choice in the side bar.

Monday, March 22, 2010

side effects

Every time I visit the good doctors at the HFA ALS clinic, they ask me a standard set of questions. It goes something like this;

Any trouble getting dressed? (yes)
Any trouble doing your job? (not really)
Any difficulty swallowing? (nada)
Any trouble eating or drinking? (not since the Ti spork, baby!)
Any excessive salivating or drooling? (Whaaaaa?)
Any sudden outburst of crying or laughter? (No... unless you count watching Up or this)

Turns out that drooling & laughing/crying uncontrollably are pretty common. I hear those effects generally manifest early on, so it's doubtful they'll show up at this point.

Nonetheless, I gave my wife these instructions; If, at any time, I am simultaneously laughing and drooling - get the video camera. Start shooting, and don't stop for any reason. Uncontrolled hysterics and drool would make a great web video. Or, it could be used in a viral ad campaign for a new extra tangy BBQ sauce or something.

"Howdy, ya'll! Try Smokey Dan's new extra-tangy barbecue sauce! It's made with four kinds of vinegar and jalapenos genetically engineered to be so tart, their mere existence is considered a war crime!" -cut to video of me drooling and laughing with bbq sauce superimposed on my face- "It's so tangy, we make you sign a waiver before you buy it. Rustle up some Smokey Dan's extra-tangy barbecue sauce for your next ho-down! Yeeee-haw!"

On the flip side, here's my plan for drooling while crying; I'm going to lay down in a Thai restaurant parking lot, writhe around and shout;

"Why?!? (sob, sob) Why did I eat that pepper? (sob, sob, drool) They said it was mild!!! (drool, drool) My insides are on fire!!! (sob, drool, sob, drool) Avenge my death! (drool)"

Either way, it's going to be awesome.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Time to rename my blog again

Back when I started this blog in 2008, I called it Monomelic-Amyotrophy-Tastic! About a year ago, my diagnosis changed, so I changed the name to probable ALS definite hilarity. Well, it's due for another name change.

My probable ALS is pretty much a sure thing at this point. That's been the case for a while, I just can't think of a new name for my blog! Really, there was only one place for probable ALS to go -- and that is definite ALS. It's not like the doctors were going to say, "Our bad, turns out you just have a really bad hangnail".

Could you imagine that hangnail? Man, that would suck. And if you got lemon juice on it? Forget about it.

Chances are good, if you can call it good, that I have a variant called Brachial Diplasial ALS. That would explain why my arms grew weak for three years before my legs started getting in on the act.

I'm sure I'll figure out a way to keep being funny despite having a pretty gnarly disease. For example, check out this bit;

At some point the muscles in my face are going to start getting week, and then I'll begin slurring my speech. I'll eventually sound like I'm drunk. Which I figure is the perfect excuse to actually be drunk all the time. Who is going to know?!? I'm already stocking up on flasks, and the mini fridge for beer gets delivered to my office next week.

See? Funny stuff. Who said facing death couldn't be funny? As proof, check out how funny dying can be, and how absolutely hilarious death can be.

Anyway, I'll keep blogging my gimpy little ass off as long as I can. I know there are a lot of people out there with Monomelic Amyotrophy who read this blog and might be freaking out like, "holy crap what if I have ALS?!?!" Well, you probably don't. That is my expert opinion.

I didn't want to get all old and lame anyway. Tell 'em, Joey.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

suck on this

The force of gravity is a son of a bitch. I'm having a hell of a time lifting things up these days. beverages are the worst, due to the risk of spillage. Is spillage even a word? What ever.

Lately I've been sticking it to gravity by using straws. How ya like me now, force of nature? Yes, I'm talking trash to gravity. Isaac Newton did the same thing after that apple bonked him on the head. Well, first he chopped down the apple tree. Then he burned down all the apple trees in Great Britain. And then he killed every man with the last name of Apple in the whole of Europe. Not a lot of people know that, it's just a footnote in history. Anyway, after the apple tree tirade, he told gravity where to stick it.

I've learned a couple of things about which beverages work and don't work with a straw. Some observations;

DO NOT, under any circumstances, drink canned Coke zero through a straw. You will end up with a mouth full of foam the likes of which none have seen. It's like a rabid dog chewing Alka-Seltzer while drinking Diet Coke and eating Mentos. The effects are even worse on an airplane or at altitude.

Red wine through a straw tastes just plain weird. maybe it's because it doesn't aerate or something.

Beer, for the most part, tastes the same through a straw. However, if you find yourself at McMinamin's outside of Portland, and you ask for a straw to go with your porter, the waitress will give you a weird look.

Water, juice, milk, and pretty much every kind of pop tastes just delightful through a straw. As does gin and tonic.

I haven't tried drinking coffee through a straw yet. I have a bad feeling I would end up with a mouth full of molten plastic. That would not be pleasant. Now if somebody would just make a titanium straw...

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Check this out

Last Friday was my lucky day. REI got new shipment of these bad boys in;
All hail the titanium spork.

That there red pepper didn't stand a chance. I sporked the hell out of that sumbitch.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

I'm no genius, but sometimes I get it right.

The good folks at the ALS Association, recently sent me a foam cover for utensils. It is supposed to make things like forks or spoons easier to grasp. Unfortunately, it was a little too large for me to use.

This morning, I had a great idea. What about camping utensils? There are ridiculously light versions out there for all the weight weenies who don't want their forks to weigh more than 10 grams. Full disclosure; there was a time when I did a lot of backpacking, and I was dangerously close to being a weight weenie myself.

Anyhoo, I swung by REI and picked up a fancy titanium spoon. It has a nice flat handle that is easy to grab, and it tips the scales at a svelte 9 grams. No more muscle fatigue while eating soup!

They were sold out of the titanium fork, and spork, so I might have to order those online. The idea of a titanium spork is impossibly cool, so I may have to shop around town for one. I mean, we all know the spork is the most awesome utensil ever, and one made out of titanium is doubly cool.

Gimpy brethren, heed my call! Go forth and buy titanium sporks!

P.S. My dictate software initially translated "Gimpy brethren, heed my call" as "Kinky brother in key might call."

I didn't even know I had a kinky brother in the Florida Keys.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Fancy new technology

I have some spiffy new software called Mac Dictate. It translates the words I say into a microphone into text on the screen. In fact, I'm just saying the words to this post I'm not typing them. This might be phase 1 in computers taking over and ruling the world, but I don't care, because it's freaking awesome.

it doesn't recognize everything I say just yet. It keeps thinking my wife's name is Monday or money & not Marney. of course the first thing I teach it will be how to recognize swear words. Let's take it for a test drive...

Mother Fokker

okay, I stand corrected, there is only one swear word it didn't recognize. it knew six out of seven words of George Carlin's seven words you can't say on television. I must reiterate, this software is freaking awesome.

I kind of feel like Capt. Kirk talking to the enterprise. "Computer. Plot a course to Alpha Centauri." on second thought I feel more like Capt. Jean-Luc Picard. Picard was a pimp. he rocked that bald head better than anyone in the universe. Incidentally, Dictate abbreviated captain and hyphenated Jean-Luc all on its own. Groove on that.

Now that I don't need to type with just two fingers, I'll be able to blog more with less frustration. Sweet! I wonder if it would understand me if I were totally wasted. Computer, pass the Jamison.

Hooray for technology!

i'm back

sorry about the lapse in blogging. as you can see in the photo below, i've been a fish for the last few weeks.

i eventually wound up at a market in Nantes... with a knife in my head.

don't worry, i got better.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

the gimpy gourmet

Here are a few gizmos i use in the kitchen on a daily basis.

Top left is the mezzaluna knife. It's kinda like what would happen if the rocker knife and a hatchet got down and then had kids... somehow. Also, it chops herbs! Woo!

Moving along in a clockwise fashion, we have the garlic robot. It's basically a mini-cuisinart which is powered by rolling it back and forth on the little grey wheels. It dices 3-4 cloves at a time. I suppose one could use it for making pesto a tablespoon at a time too.

Finally, we have an herb / leafy green slicer my sister gave me. I forgot what it's called, so I refer to it as "Satan's pizza wheel." It slices basil four times faster than a single blade. Also, it's wicked fun to use.

Just don't confuse it with your pizza cutter. Eating 'za a quarter inch at a time is a major drag.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

at last

I'm finally done with this and this (including print jobs for each), mostly done with this, and finished updating this (great pizza, btw).

Regular blogging to resume post haste. Old-timey expressions to continue henceforth. Bully!