Clintonville rat problem leads to blame game between residents, city

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Dec 20, 2013 in Rat Answers | Subscribe

A few thoughts from my on-the-mend brain….

I haven’t worn pants, other than sweat pants, in 47 days … and I’m loving it. Perhaps this will
become my look, my bold fashion statement, when I’m better and back at work. I can pull it off.
Then again, my bosses at the
Dispatch may frown upon my clothing choice.


We live in a very loud world.

I never realized this until after I suffered a traumatic brain injury. Suddenly, all the little
clinks and clanks, conversations, laughter and background music I never noticed become a series of
never-ending explosions that make my head ache.

For example, a metal spoon and ceramic bowl filled with cereal equal a cacophony of calamitous
clanks, especially those last few spoon fulls.

The solution: use a plastic spoon! Seriously Susan, please use a plastic spoon. We can wash it
and reuse it, so it won’t be bad for the environment.

Susan and I went out for my first restaurant meal late last week, to the Northstar Café in
Clintonville. We didn’t get there until almost 2 p.m., figuring the lunch rush would be over, it
would be less crowded and quiet.

We were wrong.

The Northstar was still packed, the piped-in background music was loud and a sea of voices from
very direction quickly engulfed me and started slapping me around. High-pitched laughter was the
worst offender. A woman sitting near us had the world’s third highest-pitched laugh and her friend
was some sort of super comedian in the middle of a hilarious routine. I couldn’t understand what
the funny lady was saying (the voices from so many different directions combined to sound like a
swarm of bees invading my brain), but she was on a roll and her friend’s laughter was drilling a
hole in my brain. My prayers were answered, and a few minutes after our food arrived … they

I don’t really have a point here about all the noise, other than the fact that the world – and
especially restaurants – are really loud. I do finally understand what my 80-year-old father is
talking about when he says he hates crowded restaurants and can’t hear what anyone’s saying over
the buzz of so many conversations.


Speaking of a visit to the doctor’s office, of which I’m now quite the expert, you’d think the
spine, head and neck guys would have much better and more comfortable chairs in their waiting
rooms. Seriously dudes, most of us who come to see you are in some sort of physical discomfort and
would greatly appreciate more comfy seats in the waiting rooms.


Tina and Linda/Dennis were kind enough to send boxes of delicious Harry and David
Royal Riviera pears. And in each box, one, and only one, of the pears was wrapped in foil.

The directions said their lineage can be traced back to 19
th Century France and were brought to Oregon in 1897 where the climate is perfect for

But there was no mention of why one, and only one, pear is wrapped in foil.

Does anyone out there know why?


I was flipping through the channels a few days ago and came across Groundhog Day, which is one
of my favorite movies. I watched for a few minutes and suddenly realized: “Hey, I’m stuck in my
very own version of Groundhog Day!”

It’s day 46 of my recovery and every day is pretty much the same as the one before. Unlike Bill
Murray, I don’t sleep very well, can never get comfortable and toss and turn all night. Unlike Bill
Murray, I don’t get woken up every morning by the alarm clock and Sonny and Cher’s I Got You Babe.
I get woken up by our hungry cats, who nudge and head butt us as soon as the sun comes up. They
keep at it until we give in, and get up and feed them. And by “we,” I, of course, mean Susan who is
stuck doing almost all the household chores. She feeds the cats and makes the coffee, I get the
newspaper, and we read about what’s happening in the outside world as we sip away. I then spend the
rest of the day watching TV, napping, eating, playing Words With Friends, trying to write without
much success, with an occasional trip to the doctor’s office, supermarket or a restaurant tossed in
to break up the monotony. Then, it’s 11 p.m., and time to try and fall asleep sleep and start the
cycle of frustration and tossing and turning, trying to get comfortable, all over again.

And like Bill Murray, I have taken up the art of ice sculpture, but the darn chain saw keeps
breaking my ice cubes.


While waiting in a doctor’s examining room recently (a big part of my Groundhog
Day), we noticed several serious- and scary-looking medical devices lined up on a table.
Fortunately, the doctor didn’t need to probe and poke at me with any of them. Interestingly – and
coincidently – one of the devices, the one all the way on the right in the photo, is called the
Wartenberg pinwheel or sometimes the Wartenberg neurowheel. It was designed by Robert Wartenberg
(no relation that I know of) and is rolled across the skin to test your nerve reactions.

Speaking of nerves, the ones in my chin are messed up, according to Dr. Fleming, my ENT (ear,
nose and throat) and J (jaw) specialist.

While my jaw didn’t break in the crash, it was swollen and bruised badly and covered in road
rash. I still can’t open my mouth all the way and my teeth and jaw remain numb.

“A blow that hard can cause nerve damage,” Dr. Fleming said, adding it could six or eight months
for the nerves to regenerate and feelings to come back, whether or not I use the Wartenberg


Speaking of my injuries, I’m still discovering new ones … more than six weeks in…

I was in the shower the other day and felt a swollen spot on my left side, just above the hip,
that I hadn’t previously noticed. It was a band, about four or five inches long and maybe two
inches around, about the size of a Snickers or Almond Joy. It didn’t hurt unless I touched it … so
I immediately stopped touching it (I’m not an idiot).

I asked Susan about it and she said yes, there was a huge bruise there right after the accident
that my doctors had taken note of.

“It’s so much smaller now,” she said. “And all the black-and-blue have gone away.”

“Oh, I don’t even remember it,” I said.


I have played hundreds of games of Words With Friends in recent weeks, and freely
admit I’ve become addicted.

However, I no longer play my friends.

When I play it is all-out brain therapy and the waiting around for my friends to play their
words ruins the whole rapid-fire therapy aspect. Plus, I’m inpatient. How dare my friends have
lives and not be on call 24/7 and respond within seconds after I play AXER for 58 points to surge
into the lead.

I now play against myself.

This way I can play an entire game in 20 minutes or less. I call it Steve’s Super Speedy
Restorative Words With Friends Brain Therapy (or Words Without Friends when I’m in a hurry) and it
has helped improve my ability to concentrate and stay focused for longer and longer periods of
time. Not to mention my vocabulary.

The goal, or at least my goal, when I play against myself, isn’t so much to win, for obvious
reasons. Instead, the goal is for each player to score 300 or more points. This requires a
different strategy than when you play another person, a strategy that rewards patience and setting
stuff up now for later on in the game.

I’ve mastered the 300-300 game, and have gotten to 400-300 a few times. Now, my sights are now
set on hitting the 400-400 mark.

When I do, I will celebrate with a delicious and foil-wrapped pear from the mountains of



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