Cupcake chaos

Hello, world!

This month’s Absolute Write Blog Chain has me in a bind. The topic is to be thrown by the previous poster, creating tons of excitement and mystery. Well, not really, just a couple of seconds of slight jitter before opening Internet Explorer to find the topic, my topic is: Cupcake Disaster.

Before getting to the story: here’s the link to all the great posts from the great blogs participating this February.

orion_mk3 – (link to post) Yuppies Who Hate the Family Business
ConnieBDowell – (link to post) Unexpected Library Encounter
bmadsen – (link to post) Cupcake Disaster (You are here!)
MsLaylaCakes – (link to post) Topic
HistorySleuth – (link to post) Topic
writingismypassion – (link to post) Topic
katci13 – (link to post) Topic
KitCat – (link to post) Topic
Briony-zisaya – (link to post) Topic
CatherineHall – (link to post) Topic
Angyl78 – (link to post) Topic
randi.lee – (link to post) Topic
Lady Cat – (link to post) Topic
pyrosama – (link to post) Topic
Ralph Pines – (link to post) Topic
dclary – (link to post) Topic
meowzbark – (link to post) Topic

And here we go.

The topic, as mentioned, is Cupcake Disaster. We are in February. Cupcakes. February. It falls into place. I’ve decided that my blog is a bit depressive and sad (well, not decided, but rather someone told me), so here’s a bit of humorous parting stories before I move to another blog.

Why do animals scratch and sniff everything? Because they are smart. That’s why. So on February the 13th, I was getting ready for a romantic dinner with my girlfriend. I had been juggling the thought of baking her some molten chocolate cupcakes (which I’ve never made before). The recipe seemed quite easy and on the light side, which I’m all about. It was just a matter of taking cocoa powder (always in the glass jar), yogurt, peanut butter, apple sauce and honey, mix it with flower and baking powder. Boom, bam, done!

The cooking process took just fifteen minutes. The baking process took about twenty. And she arrived. Stunning. Her long, slender legs trying to escape from that sexy two-piece dress. They gracefully teased me and then hid again. Beautiful tanned skin flashing just enough. She smiled as she kissed me and I took hold of her hand.

The candles flickered as I closed the door and she opened her eyes wide in amazement. I was on the right path. We sat down and dinner began: first course was a simple arugula and pomegranate salad with an Asian honey dressing.

I felt on the right path.

Then came a Yucca-crusted Salmon filet over a bed of Jazmin rice and oven-roasted bell peppers. She just kept smiling and thanking for taking my time in coming up with such a great dinner. I had rented her favorite movie so I knew I had this in the bank.

But then came dessert. As the oven went “bing!” I made the mistake of saying “wait for this”. I went into the kitchen and pulled out my wonderfully appealing molten chocolate cupcakes. I mean, how could I lose? Just reading it seems enticing. But no. I placed it in front of her, after sprinkling powder sugar over it and sat down. She gently cut in with a spoon and the thick mixture oozed out at a gentle place, immediately clashing with the white china. I had made it. I had succeeded in creating the perfect dinner.

Then she took a bite.

There’s something about cringing you don’t ever get used to, and she did just that. She tried to smile but I knew she wasn’t a good actress. For a second, my heart went racing. Her eyes, big and dark, wondered around from side to side like a couple of drunken dancers looking for a place to sit. She found the napkin.

That’s when I knew something had gone wrong.

“I’m sorry,” she sighed in a confusing, defeated tone, “it’s. I can’t. It’s inedible.”

“What?” I asked. I’m pretty sure I stuttered like crazy.

“It’s just. It tastes awful, honey.”

“But it can’t be. It’s not. I can’t.” I immediately tried to apologize and only managed to after breathing deeply for a second. I rushed back to the kitchen–leaving her by herself to have all the water she wanted to–and began a quick CSI scan of the ingredients.

Damn it, nature. Why don’t humans scratch and sniff?

Have you ever seen Costa Rican five spice? Well, here’s a hint. It looks just like cocoa.

At least I though I could save the night by watching the movie. But it turned out five spice stays in you. For a long time. It stays in your throat, in your teeth, in your tongue. Long enough to spark the sentence: “I’m going to go home. I had a good time.”


The Oatmeal!

Ahhh, the oatmeal. These guys are great! This post about writing is on the money (mildly depressing because of its precision and reality), but very entertaining. Check it, and other great posts, at this link

People I meet: Archibald

There are people you want to meet, there are people you’re fine with never meeting and there are people you wish you never met. Archibald was sadly on the third category. We were in San Francisco in a technical training, about two years ago, and we had been taken directly to the factory–factory trainings are great because we see everything that takes place–and we learn much more than any regular training.

I arrived late of Sunday with my coworker, about fifty years old, and we stayed at the Grand Hyatt, just a mile from our training. During dinner I spotted a latino just like us and realized that he was on the training as well. He was Gerson from Panamá. On Monday, we were driven to the factory and there we met Archibald. He had arrived late and woken up early to discuss some “financial” issues with other factory employees.

You see, Archibald worked for his brother, and he had sort of a manager-technical-sales rep mix. Let me tell you: that never works. Because there’s not one focus point.

But Archibald failed to see that. He thought he could do it all. We started our training with very tiny machines, no bigger than a laptop, and it was our job to cram a pump, an antibiotic dosing system and a control system all inside. From the start, Archibald failed to accomplish not one single unit.

But that wasn’t my problem. You see, the first night, after a tiring day, we went for dinner, the four of us. Archibald suggested: Hooters. Oh boy. Not a good sign.

“All I want is to see ladies,” he said with a stupid grin on his face.

And so we went.

To make the long story short, the waitress kindly said: “Please, sir, I’m trying to work”. And this is a Hooters waitress.

As the week went on, Archie became more and more frustrated with the machines. He just couldn’t fix them. He kept complaining that he was made for this, that he was made to sell. We all just kept quiet and carried on. Until Friday came along.

The factory guys had told us that there would be a volleyball game and we were welcomed to join them for a few beers while the “younger” ones played. Archie was ecstatic. Finally, his field of play. We got there and he started drinking like crazy. By night’s end, he was too drunk and started hitting on the Sales Manager, telling her he wanted to climb and conquer her. Great.

Add to this that I was the only driver, because the company had given me the rental.

He then started hitting on a complete stranger who felt attacked. She screamed. Archie screamed. I broke the conflict-to-be up in no time and took Archie back to the hotel. Or at least I tried to.

He didn’t want to leave.

“This is what I’ve been waiting for! Yeah!” He mumbled.

Damn it.

He kept insisting that he was going to bang the Sales Manager (who wasn’t pretty by the way), but she grew so uncomfortable, she held hands with one of her employees just to drive him away! And he didn’t! He kept screaming and causing chaos.

I got pissed. And I said: “Alright, I’m checking out.”

Archie grudgingly got into the car and asked me to turn up the volume. Damn him, he kept shouting and singing. The Panamanian only nodded and laughed along. He was enjoying. But my coworker was just about to kill him.

We got to the hotel and I bolted to my room. Archie headed straight for the bar. I just ignored him: I’m a writer, I’m not made for partying. But turns out silly Bernard left the hotel keys in the car. So I went down the elevator and guess what?

In a matter of seconds–I still do not know how–San Francisco’s finest had Archie cuffed and escorted to a cruiser. As he was walking towards the lobby’s exit, he turned to me and was about to call for me. I just slid back in the elevator.

A year later I found out his brother had to fly to San Francisco from Peru and pay his bail. He was fired. Oh, Archie….

Mr. Archibald, please come with us.

Archie’s been bad.



Hello, World!
Here are the instructions to this month’s Absolute Write Blog Chain!

In the spirit of NaNoWriMo, write a mock review of a writing project that you have done or would like to do. Make sure to either give a brief, one-sentence description of what the project is or work it into the review somehow. You can review anything (poetry, prose, collected blog posts) and in any way you like (funny, serious, Dadaist).

And here are the participating blogs:

Participants and posts:
orion_mk3: (link to post)
Ralph Pines – (link to post)
bmadsen – (link to post)
dolores haze – (link to post)
SRHowen – (link to post)
Angyl78 – (link to post)
writingismypassion – (link to post)
meowzbark – (link to post)
pyrosama – (link to post)
randi.lee – (link to post)

wonderactivist – (link to post)

Here’s the post:

Chad Sorrens is a young and talented soldier facing his biggest challenge yet: to survive Project Archangel. In B.M.’s first novel, Project Archangel, the protagonist faces a series of challenges outlined by an underground terrorist war in Russia. Written at the age of 15, this novel has predictable twists and turns, but does have a gem somewhere beneath the troupes.

Within the gunfights, cliché love scenes and crummy dialogue we are forced to endure if we want to finish the novel, there is a harsh criticism towards war and the psychological turmoil soldiers endure. Sorrens, in the end of Project Archangel, regrets every second he spend holding a machine gun in the middle of the Russian Winter. Not because of himself, but because of the changed lives around him.

Overall Project Archangel, at 120 thousand words, is an ambitious creation by a young writer with much to learn. If the book is left to mature (and the writer) for a couple of years, it just might turn into a decent novel comparable with Ludlum, Forsyth and the earlier Clancy.

The review is of my very first book.

Do something! But don’t smoke…

And the flick of the switch would determine months of hard labor. The first-ever artificial Heart Machine to be completely independent in Costa Rica was to be put through its paces—giving the doctors the chance of working on a completely blood-free heart—and we were nervous because of three things:

–       The patient depends solely on the machine and nothing else. If the machine fails, doctors can pump manually but still need the machine to know whether they are pumping right or wrong.

–       The machine is brand new. Brand new things can either work or not, there’s something called Murphy’s Law.

–       The hefty price tag (three hundred and twenty thousand dollars).

Well, make that four: we were the techs in charge of acting in case anything went wrong.

“Start the pump,” the doctor said with a focused voice and his assistant turned flicked the switch. A comforting beep followed and my partner and I sighed quietly, “start the cardioplegia auxiliary pump,” another comforting beep followed, “start the artificial lung (How does that song go? Too much oxygen will get you high, not enough and you’re going to die? That’s what this does.)”

Silence. My heart stopped.

I looked at the patient and then remembered the file—I took the liberty of reading it even if doctors didn’t let me—specifically the age: fifty-four years old. And there he was with his eyes closed, his mouth ajar and a plastic tube shoved down his throat, his ribs were completely open and his heart was, at that precise moment, still. It was paralyzed.

I also remembered how the doctor had reacted when he opened the patient up. It’s not comforting when you see a doctor go: “wow”, even if it’s mute and unimpressed. He looked up at me, for just a second, and flicked his head, inviting me.

“Check this out,” he passed his blade over the main artery connecting to his heart. The artery did not get cut. He passed it again: nothing. He turned to his assistant and asked for a tougher blade (usually less precise), “this is what happens when you smoke for thirty years. His veins are so calcified the blade won’t go through; we’re going to have to replace them all. This has just become a sextuple by-pass.”

I’m an engineer. I’m not a doctor. And still, the adrenaline rushing through my body at that precise moment sent shivers up and down my body. Or was it the cold air? It didn’t matter. I was in front of scientific greatness.

I remembered when he said: “It’s time to turn on the machine,” and I felt back to reality. How many seconds had I been out of reality? I turned to the doctor and his eyes—the only visible emotion , the rest hidden behind a mask, hair-cap and anti-glare eyeglasses—were honestly scared.

“Do something!” he screamed. We both turned to the machine and I scanned the screen, cursing at myself silently. If it had been more than two minutes, then the patient was as good as dead. Then I saw it, I saw the reason why the artificial lung hadn’t started, but did it matter at the moment? Absolutely not.

I flicked the switch from auto to manual, something the doctor should have done first, before even connecting the patient. The beeps continued, the hoses filled with blood, oxygen was sent where oxygen was needed, temperature was sent where temperature was needed and life was injected where life was needed.

Everything went back to normal. The patient survived and is now recovering from a sextuple by-pass. He is considering quitting smoking. And he doesn’t remember anything, only feeling cold for a moment. And the doctor never saw his mistake. Perhaps he was too scared, or he did noticed and didn’t say a word.

My creative independence slaves me:

Greetings, world! This post revolves around the July topic of Absolute Write’s Watercooler blog chain: Independence and Slavery. Firstly, the participants of this chain are mentioned:

Drum roll, please:

Participants and posts:

orion_mk3 – (link to this month’s post)
knotanes – (link to this month’s post)
meowzbark – (link to this month’s post)
Ralph Pines – (link to this month’s post)
randi.lee – (link to this month’s post)
writingismypassion – (link to this month’s post)
pyrosama – (link to this month’s post)
bmadsen – (link to this month’s post)
dclary – (link to this month’s post)
Poppy – (link to this month’s post)
areteus – (link to this month’s post)
Sweetwheat – (link to this month’s post)
ThorHuman – (link to this month’s post)
Tex_Maam – (link to this month’s post)
MelodySRV – (link to this month’s post)

My creative independence slaves me:

It was a Saturday afternoon, the wind had suddenly chilled to the point of discomfort and the clouds had flooded the skies. The sun was only visible as insistent rays piercing through the thick gray tumults. Evergrey echoed in my headphones. And my manuscript was right in front of me, challenging me to change it.

This was the seventh—or eighth, not really sure—revision and still I couldn’t seem to break from the original idea, even though I didn’t like it. And worst of all, it really caught my eye to see that, though I could come up with anything I wanted regarding the characters of this novel, I couldn’t break free from the original idea.

As I analyzed every line of my manuscript I realized that it was that very same initial creativity that held me back. I created characters, gave them lives, names, problems and fears, they spoke back to me, asking for a change, telling me they didn’t agree with the grainy beard, the pokey eyes or the soft hands. The novel moved on, they moved on, growing up, becoming defined as individuals in a world I had created.

Slight fear had overtaken me. Had I gotten to a point in which they ruled what was to happen and not me? If that were so, how would I know how the novel would head?

I wanted to change them. I wanted to impose my point of view and not theirs. It didn’t work.  Now I must work with them in order to see if we can come up with an agreed ending, a defined rhythm, heck, even the color of the house they live in.  It seems as though I’m a slave to my own creativity.

I got to admit, I like it, though it sometimes frustrates me. Perhaps this post was just a creative rant, a moment of weakness in a usually steady flow of creativity, but it felt from the skies at the right time to let out my frustrations.

I will work with them. But not right at this moment, I’ve just gotten an emergency call. One of our machines is needed in the hospital.

Biomed’s rule number 2:

Always, ALWAYS, stop at a doorway and look both ways before you exit. Hospitals work at a different pace, a rhythm that has a mind of its own, and the staff inside hospitals don’t slow down for outsiders.

So before you step forth, look both ways.

I forgot Biomed’s rule number 2, for just a second. I innocently waltzed into the hallway and the world stopped: I didn’t know shoes screeched. Perhaps it was a scream. Her eyes locked with mine. Her hands stiffened. Her breath stopped. Mine did too.

My heart raced.

“Watch it, will ya?” She said with an evil grin. Between us only inches and in her hands a bed pan full of piss. Nasty, yellow, stinking piss. “‘Cause this one is a stinker.”

My heart slowed down. I apologized.

Biomed’s rule number 2: stop and look both ways.

I’d rather be a hammer

…Than a nail. That’s how the song goes.

It was 3:30 in the afternoon and I was on my way to the biggest hospital in my country. I must admit, I was foolishly–naively–thinking I’d be out of there by 5:00 to carry on with the research for my upcoming book. Never celebrate early, it just won’t work, that’s what my dad says. My coworker was waiting for me in the lobby and we walked into the operating room with motivation and determination.

I’ve never been able to explain it but I’ll try: I really don’t feel I’m crossing a barrier when I enter an operating hall. I mean that’s the so-called “most sterile” part of a hospital, right? And still, I just walked in, changed my clothes and stepped into the “clean area” looking like an oversized leprechaun with a hairnet and gloves. There wasn’t any control, any restrictions and it doesn’t make me feel right. All I could feel was the air getting colder, life being drained out and all emotion being put to the side.

It’s a long hallway—white tiles on the floor so that blood stands out, glass all around giving the place no sense of security, no sense of shelter, silence all around so machines can warn of any upcoming death—and operating rooms to the left and to the right. There’s no way to avoid them.

There it was, resting against the wall like a passenger waiting for the subway, our target: the cursed operating table. For about two years now we’ve been struggling with this table and its record isn’t exactly pristine. Five patients have died (no blame on the table), it gets jammed in the mornings and won’t hold its position in the afternoons and moves with free will. Doctors hate it and it’s not my best friend either.

We just looked at it, I like to do that before actually opening it up. Sometimes, with the simplest gaze, one can find out the most complex of problems. This time though, it wasn’t the case. We had had a report of nuances including a jammed elevator, a stuck brake on the wheels and a wobbly leg supporter and we decided to attack the “easiest problem”: the stuck brake.

Thirty minutes passed. The air got colder, my head actually hurt—a piercing pain shooting from the back of my head to the front—and I cursed not having lunch.

That damned brake would release. I was pretty sure that, if I could just get one more inch, just one, of visibility I could sneak in a screwdriver and release the spring. But the brakes are covered by a stainless steel shroud and I had two choices: either rest my head on an operating room floor or lift a machine that weighed up four hundred pounds—and do that with a bad back. I resisted both. I did everything: I used my cellphone camera to get an idea of the issue but nothing; I tried feeling the problem but couldn’t get anything but gunk and dirt.

I exhaled in frustration while my partner told me he wanted to give it a go.

Forty minutes had passed. My headache was now unbearable. The research for my book (consisting of an interview to an amputee) was now becoming a farfetched reality. My body demanded fuel. And that damned brake would not move.

My partner leaned back, literally sat down on the floor and exhaled, copying my gesture.

Fifty minutes had passed. The ten minutes we had conversed about possible solutions had been useless. No solution seemed worthy of a try. There just wasn’t any area.

Sixty minutes. The patient in the operating room next door had just been sedated. In about two hours his leg will be completely sawed off. My partner came up with a solution that required great effort. We had to life the table and put a support below and that way we would have precious inches to work with. He chose to lift it. I chose not to oppose him. We both inhaled, he braced for a comfortable position and humph-ed the chair into the air—or just two inches—I quickly slid the support just when he pulled his fingers free. One more second and they would’ve been chopped off. Success, we had lifted it.

I took a look at the brake. The spring was jammed and I thought: “if I get my screwdriver there and undo the whole system, I can clean the gunk, blood and protein, then rebuild the system and test it.” But the access was small, a gap of two inches maximum. I’d had to rest my head on the floor and, though it had been cleaned, hospital clean isn’t really clean at all. And so, I leaned my head as much as I could, my neck stiffened as it struggled to keep me from the vile invisible demons that lurk in the deceiving white tiles. I would feel them crawling towards me, wanting to stick to my skin and then seep slowly through my pores: flu, leptospirosis, MRSA, you name it and it was there. Suddenly I stopped breathing as if that would help. Then I hissed. I was wearing a mask.

A working surface at the hospital

Hospital “clean”

I fought to get that sharp edge inside, it was just microns away, I could feel the screw and I swore it had actually turned but my hand trembled, my fingers cramped, the position was just too uncomfortable. Dammit, I had to give up.

I rested on my knees and looked at my partner with surrendered eyes.

In him I saw the opposite: in a surge of determination he disappeared. Seconds later he was back: in his hands were a can of WD40 and a hammer. He gently shoved me out of the way, then emptied half of the WD40 on the brake. After inhaling the “enlightening” fumes, he aimed at the brake. It was literally make or break: if he missed, the dent on the table would be impossible to hide.

He swung the hammer and put every drop of strength into it. I could see the forearm flex, his veins pop out and his eyes shrug with effort. The bang was so loud the doctors on the other operating room actually peeked to see if something had happened. Silence followed.

For seconds.

Pop! The brake unjammed.

A hammer and WD40 can be the best tools in the world.

We left at 5:45 pm.