Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Here

"Um, is that all?"

First Christmas

"Thank God, you found more"

The Boy

The unhappiest little Girl in Toyland

"Pumpkin Pie!!"

Ahhh

Thursday, December 24, 2009

From All Of Us...

Our best wishes to all of you for a safe and happy holiday and a very bright New Year!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

And If You Ever Saw It...

A moment of substantially selective scepticism from the Boy was displayed tonight when he expressed his total belief in Santa, but denied the existence of Rudolph - "He's just made up for a movie. He's not real."

Not to be denied, I suggested that when we leave cookies for Santa tomorrow night, might we leave a carrot for Rudolph too. "If it's gone in the morning won't that prove that Rudolph exists," I offered.

"No," said the Boy.

"But if it's gone then Rudolph ate it, right," I countered.

He shook his head, "Nope, it just means one of the REAL reindeer did."

Kids are so jaded.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Accidental Attraction

After this morning's emotional turmoil I was left to haul the Boy to a birthday party for one of his "girlfriends", the delightful Brienna. As we left I dropped the address into the GPS and it didn't show up so I called to get directions. Brienna's mother said she was glad to hear we were coming and added that she had been worried the girls would be disappointed if the Boy hadn't made it (the baby was seriously ill over the weekend and I had called then to say we might not make it if she ended up in the hospital).

We arrived a little early and the Boy was the first guest. He and the birthday girl played as I made small talk. As the other guests began to show a curious pattern emerged. First, all the guests were preschool girls. Second, almost every one that arrived entered the door with the phrase, "where is he?" or something similar. They would then race through the house until they located the Boy. They were accompanied by their mothers and as I introduced myself the moms would say, "Oh yes, Arlo's dad."

The Boy was the only representative of his gender at the party - a swarm of preschool girls and him. Later another boy - 7 or so - showed up, brought in tow with his younger sister, but he only cared about the pizza. I got the distinct impression my son was the "entertainment".

As I stood in the kitchen chatting with the moms I happened to notice the refrigerator. It was like ours, covered in photos and kid artwork. And then a small construction paper xmas tree caught my eye. It had the Boy's name on it. "Is that my son's artwork," I asked. Brienna's mom looked and said, "Yes, he made that and gave it to Brienna. She insisted we put it on the fridge."

Later I told the Boy that it was nice of him to have made that for her. He said he hadn't actually. He said he had done it at school but didn't like it and was going to throw it away. Brienna had asked for it. He had said sure. I told him it was nice anyway and he smiled his sweet smile.

I have written about his apparent ability to inspire an odd degree of fandom (for lack of a better term) amongst the girls his age, but today took it to a whole other level. If I could figure out a way to hire him out, trust me, I would.

In the meantime, he remains oblivious regarding his legions and just has himself a grand time. His biggest thrill today was the pencil and eraser he got as party favors.

Hell Hath No Fury

I have heard over the years stories of insurance company evil - we all have heard them. I was always thankful that I didn't deal with that kind of company. Surprise! Our turn came around.

The Girl has an appointment on January 4 at a clinic that specializes in developmental disabilities. The clinic has been doing this for 60 years so one can assume they've got their act together. The doctor heading up the Girl's evaluation is a developmental psychologist who is affiliated with Stanford's Lucille Packard clinic for children. She is a graduate of McGill, did her residency at Yale, is board certified in developmental disabilities, and actually teaches seminars on how to diagnose speech disorders. In other words, she is exactly what we are looking for.

Sadly the developmental clinic does not take insurance. We will need to get reimbursed by our insurance company for the very expensive daylong evaluation ($3700!). In order to get the reimbursement we must get a preauthorization for it. The request was sent in to the insurance company by our pediatrician with the important details. Yesterday the insurance company informed us they were denying the authorization, saying that there are doctors in our network we can see and so we can not see one that is "out of network".

I called the insurance company and asked for a list of of developmental psychologists that were "in network". The woman I spoke to, Christy, put me on hold and after a bit returned and gave me the name of a psychiatrist. I told her that was not the same thing - we want a developmental psychologist. Christy put me on hold again, longer this time. When she came back she said that she was certain that Children's Hospital in Fresno had one on staff and I should call them. I asked her for a name. She said I would have to call Children's, that it wasn't their job to find me a doctor. I said that since they were the ones claiming there was a doctor "in network" they should prove it to me by giving me a name - it was impossible for me prove a negative (that there weren't doctors in network) especially without a list; it was their job to prove there were. She said she did not have access to a list; only their medical director did and he did not speak to patients. He only spoke to providers. I told her that was nonsense since she had just given me the name of a psychiatrist with no problem. She essentially told me, tough - call Children's.

So I checked. Children's hospital is a first rate facility dealing with many issues and we have availed ourselves of their services before. However, even though they have four psychologists on staff, none of them are developmental psychologists. In fact there hasn't been a developmental psychology department at Children's for five years. Some additional investigation showed there is only one developmental psychologist in our entire area, and she only takes patients assigned to her by the state. That's it.

Insurance company lied. End of story. They compounded their lie by covering it up. This little sham of theirs is the equivalent of me needing heart surgery, them having no cardiac surgeons in network and so requiring me to see a general surgeon for my bypass... or a dermatologist. And they would claim the general surgeon or dermatologist was a cardiac surgeon.

They are scum of the first order.

Though I can fight them, it won't be in time as, sadly, by the time I do ultimately win the appointment will have taken place and they will be able to deny the claim because it wasn't "pre-authorized". Nice little scam they've got, huh?

We are dealing with my child here so mark my words: You don't want to mess with my kid.

I'm coming for you and, to quote a movie, I'm bringing hell with me.

Addendum:
The battle royal began this morning with phone call after phone call to no end. Recommendations for child psychiatrists were the best thing offered. Finally I was provided with the phone number of the CEO of the insurance company. He took my call and listened patiently as I told him the story from beginning to end. He asked me two questions and when I had answered them he told me that he would approve the payment and it would be taken care of within the hour.

I was stunned for a moment and then, through my tears, I thanked him and told him to have a merry christmas. I don't think I have ever said it with more sincerity.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Seriously, Knock It Off

For those of you keeping track, first there was this incident, and then this one. Today was the third abuse.

While at the carwash, the Boy in tow, I approached the cashier to pay for the auto-cleansing. She bantered with the Boy: "Are you excited for Christmas? Are you getting lots of toys?" She then turned to me, "Is he your grandson?"

"No," I said, and left it at that.

And this woman was my age, with, as she told the Boy, two kids of her own, aged 9 & 11.

Helpful hint: If you're going to ask the question, err on the flattering side - "Is that your son? No?! Why you're too young to have a grandson."

I'm losing my sense of humor, people.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

PLeaSe

I've been saying the Girl is bright, that were it not for the speech issue we would have ourselves a regular genius on our hands. Actually that's not accurate. We DO have a genius on our hands. It's just hard to know it when her ability to communicate is so diminished.

Yesterday the speech therapist began to administer an assessment of the Girl called the PLS-4 (Preschool Language Scale.) It's used to determine cognitive skills and both receptive and expressive language ability. The first portion yesterday was cognitive and receptive language. My wife took her to the appointment and gave me the report. The Girl began to run out of steam toward the end, no doubt the result of her recent illness, but the results were rather astonishing.

The test can be used for children 3 to 6 years of age. The Girl is not quite 3 yet so expectations were a little low. Surprise! She showed stunning ability. The speech therapist has been administering the PLS for quite a few years, but she had never had a child reach the level the Girl did before they called it quits for the day - never. When they left off she was already testing at a five year old level of cognition, reasoning, and understanding of instructions. Again, the therapist had never even administered that portion of the test because no child had ever gotten that far. She was blown away. She speculated that the Girl's reasoning skills had actually been enhanced by her diminished skill with speech: the Girl must figure out alternative ways to express herself and that had developed her problem-solving skills far beyond her age.

What does this mean?

Expressive and receptive language skills should go hand in hand, with expressive ability lagging somewhat behind receptive ability. That's typical. There should not be more than a 6 month deviation between the two. If the child is only understanding at a 3 year old level than that's where their expressive skills should be as well (minus no more than 6 months or so.) As long as they are together it indicates (though doesn't assure) a simple delay and not a major problem. The school district wants this assessment done to determine her eligibility for services. The fact that her understanding and reasoning are far beyond her age and that her expressive skills, when tested, will probably be a year or so less than her age will mean a gap between the two of 3 years (or more); not the standard 6 months.

Hello, real problem, and hello services (we hope).

She is one smart cookie and my sadness that this bright and well-reasoned view of the world can not escape from her is overwhelming.

The only greater tragedy would be if no remedy was offered.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Better Writing

You know I write this blog with a little of this and a little of that. I try to do it well - try to tell the little stories about myself, my life, my kids. I have, I think, upon occasion nailed it with a nice bit of wordsmithing (though I doubt I've done so recently) and I've been satisfied, but there are days when I just want to throw my hands up in the air and chuck it. One of those moments was this morning when I read a recent post on Sweet Juniper. It was simply dazzling and wonderous, so much so that I am rather awed by its beauty and honesty.

If you want to read a really good blogger, this is your stop. Read as he takes a funny, "god, how kids can kill you" tale and makes it so much more without ever cheating it for effect.

A portion (his daughter threw up on his laptop the night before visiting family for Thanksgiving):

In the morning the laptop is dead.

Overnight the acids corroded something essential. My brain can't help working through the justifications and rationalizations of replacing it. I hate nothing more than spending money. I mope for a bit on the couch and my daughter comes over and snuggles up to me and sits there for a while, vaguely patting me on the head and singing me a song. It was quite touching. And it was time I would have ordinarily spent typing...

...We keep our eyes on the kid every time she makes a sound, knowing that the only way this could get any worse is if she fills the car with that sickness. It turns out she's already over it, but when we get to Pittsburgh no one's there for dinner because my wife's stepbrother has overdosed on heroin and everyone is with him in the ICU. When his mother returns she sits with my wife in the kitchen over cold stuffing and an uneaten turkey and I listen to her fall apart, a bit drunk, her son in a coma with machines breathing for him, at a loss for what to do with the child she found choking on the vomit in his lungs and a needle still in his hand.

* * * * *

It's just a goddamn computer, says the universe. You complain to the universe that she could have done it a few steps away; her aim could have been a bit to the right; she could have skipped the strawberries altogether. The universe gently presses your lips together, shushes you. You could have put the computer down for once.

You watch your children sleeping in the car on the way back home. Your brain returns to the $1700 emesis. Years ago something like this might have made you angry. If your college roommate had done it, you might never have forgiven him. But how could you be mad at her? You might as well be mad at the wind.

They will change you in ways you'd never expect. They will puke all over everything and it will do nothing to change the fact that you would tear out your own heart to see them go unhurt.

The lingering odor of dried vomitus. You never knew love could smell this bad.

But read the whole thing.
He really is that good. I hope he knows that.

Blow Out The Candles

And a big Happy Birthday to my lovely and extraordinary wife. 29 years old... again.

Where would I be without you?

Love you.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Theocracy

This is one crazy country.

It seems that 6 - count em, 6 - of the states in our "United States" have laws on the books that ban anyone from taking elected office, or in some cases even testifying in a state trial, if they deny the existence of God. Seriously.

North Carolina is one of them and a recently elected city councilman in Asheville has some citizens trying to keep him out of office by using that old law because the guy is an athiest.

It doesn't stop in the Carolinas though. From the Arkansas State Constitution, Article 19, Section 1:

"No person who denies the being of a God shall hold any office in the civil departments of this State, nor be competent to testify as a witness in any court."

Of course the Supreme Court of the U.S. struck down all such laws in a ruling against Maryland in 1961. They said in part (and rather emphatically):

"We repeat and again reaffirm that neither a State nor the Federal Government can constitutionally force a person 'to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion.'"

They based that decision on Article VI of the Constitution, which says:

“no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

Don't see any wiggle room there. Thank you, Founding Fathers!

The fact that the laws are still on the books is one thing, but that there are folks out there still trying to enforce them is just batshit crazy.

Welcome to the Dominion.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Mono

The Girl has it.

The rapid mono test came back negative, but the doctor warned me before we did it that they have 25% false negative rates - even higher in kids. All the other symptoms (swollen tonsils, high fever, puffy red-rimmed eyes) and blood work (atypical lymphocytes with high white cell count) point to classic mono. The titers for Epstein-Barr will be back by the end of next week which should settle the matter (probably) and more blood work in three weeks should show the antibodies and confirm it once and for all. In the meantime our pediatrician is treating the Girl as if it is... because that's what our pediatrician thinks it is.

The Girl can expect misery for another week and general unhappiness for as long as a month.

Fortunately it's not an easy virus to casually share, so most people need not worry. Odds are my wife and I have been exposed in our lifetimes (most adults have) and so we should be relatively immune. The baby is still breastfeeding so she is getting her immunity from mom. The Boy is the problem. Since he and the Girl frequently share a bath, and all its intrinsic water fountain spitting at one another, I suspect he might get nailed as well. The damned virus has a 7-8 week incubation period so it could hit him in February for all we know.

As for the Girl currently - she's a trooper. From hardcore sweat it out fevers to teeth-chattering chills; from tonsils so swollen you can't see past them to eyes so sunken she looks dead; from a pale ghastly complexion to one nasty snotty nose (she has a secondary sinus infection), this kid is suffering, but taking it all in stride, and pretty grateful this means popsicles and apple juice. She doesn't even complain or whine. I'm just falling in love with my daughter for her hang-in-there spirit.

She napped for 4 hours this afternoon and wanted more when I woke her. She was off to bed an hour early tonight and asleep before I turned off the light. She is one tired 2 year old.

And I'm a pretty tired dad.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Anvil

A weekend with big plans deteriorated swiftly. We had scheduled our annual tree grab for Saturday, but the poor health of the brood postponed it till the next day. By mid-afternoon Saturday the baby was utterly miserable, tugging at her ear and screaming. The wife bundled her up and made her way to the Urgent Care facility. After a relatively brief wait they confirmed our suspicions that the baby had a nasty ear infection - the second one in a month. More antibiotics, please.

Meanwhile, back at the homefront, the Girl spiked a nice fever for the second day in a row. We knocked it down with tylenol and ibuprofen and decided to keep our eye on her.

Sunday the baby's misery continued, as did the Girl's fevers, so the tree hunt was again postponed. By noon, the Girl's fever was climbing and fearing another bout of kidney infection it became my turn to bundle a kid up and head off. I opted for the ER knowing that they would be able to check her urine.

Four hours later we left - no kidney infection, but a nasty set of tonsils. Kissing tonsils is the term used when they are so swollen they touch one another. That's my Girl. Strep came back negative, but the rapid test can give false negatives 15% of the time. In any case, there was more amoxocillin added to the kitchen counter in addition to the steroid they gave her in the ER to reduce the swelling.

Today her tonsils are just as swollen and her misery index (self and inducing in others) is pretty high. My great fear is that she has mono.

As she and I sat in the waiting room yesterday amongst the sick and wounded, a father carried in his son. The kid was roughly 9 or 10 and had a bloody towel wrapped around one foot. A sister, perhaps a year or two older than the kid, accompanied them. There seemed to be no sense of panic amongst the three and they waited to be seen with the rest of us.

In the exam room later, seperated from others by the complex of curtains, the Girl and I awaited the results of her various tests. The kid with the bloody towel was wheeled in and slipped into his partition, his father and sister by his side. Eventually, they began to treat him and it was obvious from the overheard conversation they were going to inject a local anesthetic to start the process. As they inserted the needle the kid began whimpering horribly, "Daddy, Daddy!" It was gutwrenching to hear. The medical staff and his father tried to calm him, but it sounded pretty painful and his cries continued. It almost made me weep for the kid. When they finished, one of the staff asked the father what happened - "Did he drop a bowling ball on that toe?" "No," said the father, "It was an anvil." There was an audible gasp - "An anvil?!" The father added, "I told him it was too heavy, but do kids listen?"

I was so glad the towel was wrapped around that toe.

And despite the cries from him when he got the injection, I stand in awe of that boy's calm demeanor for the whole time he waited. That was one tough kid.

Friday, December 4, 2009

This Way Lies That

Life creeps by on a day-to-day basis and you just don't realize that, in spite of the seemingly slow crawl of minutes in those days, it is moving really swiftly. It just doesn't seem that long ago - half a lifetime?! - that I graduated from high school or indulged my (semi) punk life. That is the disturbing nature of time.

In a convergence of both (high school and punk) comes this brutal slap to the head - a reminder that those days are further behind than I remember.

Seattle punks photographed by Lavine in 1983

Michael Lavine and Thurston Moore have released a new book, Grunge. Moore supplies the essay for the piece and the photos come from Lavine's shots of street punks in Seattle during the early 80's and from his work shooting the Subpop bands that followed in their wake. It's a little bite of history - the taste of bittersweet nostalgia.

Moore is, of couse, the leader of the deified, Sonic Youth. Lavine is a leading commercial photographer having shot numerous album covers for Nirvana, Soundgarden, Beastie Boys, Jay-Z, Notorious B.I.G., White Stripes, and Sonic Youth, among many, as well as being a video director. He has in recent years become a much sought after advertising and magazine shooter for Vogue, Esquire, Outside and the like. The two of them, Moore and Lavine, are neighbors in Soho and the idea for the book came to them one day when Moore stopped by to borrow Lavine's fax machine. An old portfolio of photos was sitting out and one thing led to another.

Nirvana photographed by Lavine in 91

Michael Lavine and I went to high school together (the other half of the convergence). I doubt he would remember me, but he and my brother were pretty good friends - fellow photographers and classmates who shot together often. Over the years I had heard that Michael had found some success in his field - that he was described as "the guy who shot Nevermind" - but I wasn't aware he had reached the "top of the call list" level.

Mike, then

The fact that I recall Michael as just a young friend of my little brother in a time long before the one we currently live within has a certain absurd dissonance when I try to reconcile the memory and the present. We were young together, shaped by many of the same cultural changes (though he was much closer to those forces than I), and our lives - mine, his, and those of our peers - have become fat and padded since those days. I feel out of sync with how much thread has wound around the spindle of our lives, how long ago so much of what seemed to matter took place, and how strangely sad that fact is.

Michael, now

I am not alone in my inability to reconcile the space between what was and what is. Michael gets it too. As he says regarding Kurt Cobain:

"My association with Kurt has been so potent that much of my career has been framed in his shadow. I am regularly introduced as “the guy who shot Nevermind”. I am trying to figure out a way to develop a legacy that is not dictated by my connection with him but it seems highly unlikely that I will manage. Not that its so terrible to be in my position but I do wonder if I will ever be able to accomplish anything of any greater value. I had my 15 minutes already. The reason that I bring this up is because I am feeling guilty about the prospect of landing a book deal with Abrams partially because they will be able to put Kurt on the cover."

In any case, it's a beautiful book. So think about it as Christmas approaches for those whose lives might be as distinctly out of sync as mine.

Michael also has an interesting blog, My Aim is True, that's worth a read.

Poison Ivy and Lux Interior shot by Lavine in 91

A gallery of more mainstream Lavine portraits is here. (Lest you think him an egomaniac, the title of the gallery, Michael Lavine Knows More People Than You Do, is not of his making. The gallery was put together by a third party.)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Prohibited Items

Been doing some research regarding a cruise for the family (pretty pedestrian, I know). The Disney Cruise Line has a helpful FAQ that includes some answers about prohibited items and, more specifically, prohibited toys on board. It included this passage:

"Balloons are not permitted on board the ship due to environmental concerns. If a Guest arrives with a balloon, the balloon is tagged with the Guest's name and can be picked up after the cruise. Disney Cruise Line is not responsible if the balloon is deflated upon pick-up."

I have this vision of a locked room filled with sad balloons hovering low to the ground, strings entangled, awaiting their young owners' return.

Favorites

We really never ran into it with the Boy. He seemed happy to go with the flow - whatever. But the Girl is hitting the phase. She is making demands. She is getting choosy. She wants what she wants.

She now has favorite clothing and everything else sucks.

The horizontal striped shirt of of yellow and red is a must have. Almost all the time. Put together with overalls it is her go to ensemble. Sure the lime green pants and the mushroom shirt are great fallbacks. The purple pear shirt works as well. But God forbid you get between her and that shirt. Hell hath no wrath as a toddler scorned.

It isn't so bad - kinda cute - but it does get old. Really old.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

It's Bad Out There

The city of Detroit has just sold the Pontiac Silverdome (cost to build $56 million) to a private group for $580,000, the price of a nice home.

And you thought you were underwater on your house.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Special Notice

The wife stood in line for three hours today to get the baby a pug vax. We hadn't planned on it taking that long so she brought the Girl with her. The line stretched around the block at a local middle school. I sympathize with my wife and felt badly that she was stuck with the girls alone.

As you can imagine, three hours leaves plenty of time to chat with your fellow vax waiters. At one point a woman was walking down the line and my wife asked how far the line went back. The woman answered my wife and then stuck around a while as she and my wife shared their gripes about the whole process. During a small lull in their conversation the Girl piped in, talking about one thing or another. The woman listened to the Girl intently and then asked my wife discretely, "Is she "special needs?" She didn't say it rudely or obnoxiously, just understandingly. My wife said yes and explained the Girl's circumstances.

When my wife told me this story I found myself asking for details: what had the Girl been saying? how did she speak? did the woman ask knowingly or curiously? I needed to know what this stranger had used to glean her perception of my daughter.

We discuss the Girl's issues in our home regularly, hardly a day goes by without a conversation about it. We have talked to her therapists and doctors about it over and over. We are fully aware of the extent of her problems. We are not in denial. However, when my daughter's disability is obvious to a total stranger during a brief meeting, well, that is something akin to a punch in the gut. It is no longer our problem - mine and my wife's - to worry over, plan for, contend with. It is now my daughter's problem, and no matter what we do the world will notice it more and more. And the world has never been known for its kindness.

I told my wife I was glad it was her that spoke with the woman. It it were me I think I would have started crying.

An addendum: My wife told me that as they waited their three hours in line today many of the kids ran and played on the large grassy knoll next to the line. Two girls, sisters, joined Flyn in a game. As Flyn began telling them a story of some kind the younger of the two girls said, "What? I can't understand you." Her sister stepped in and informed her younger sibling, matter of factly, "It's ok. She still talks baby."

Dumb

These identity thieves really are dumb as a box of rocks.

Got this today in my junk mail:

Dear Bank of America Cardholder,

This is your official notification from Bank of America. Your online has expired. If you want to continue using our service you have to renew your online. If not, your online will be limited and deleted.

To continue click here and complete the renew form with your current information.

Thank you,
Bank of America Online Banking Support


"Your online"?
"complete renew form"?

Idiots turn to crime precisely because they are idiots. They can't even do this well.

Science Fair Projects From Hell

Seriously...


And a boatload more here.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Oops!

Hey, everybody remember my rant regarding the county health department's failure to deliver pug vax in a timely and effective manner? And the fact that my wife's hospital had requested 3500 doses for staff and patients and received only 50 doses? For everyone?!

Well, we now discover why.

It seems the State of California, responsible for distributing the vax throughout the state, just forgot. According to the infectious disease pharmacist at the hospital, California just plain forgot that our county existed. We weren't included on the distribution list. We didn't show up on the spreadsheet. We didn't count. Only last week did someone in Sacramento realize we were here and now the county gets its vax. Seriously - they freaking forgot half a million people who live smack dab in the middle of the state.

If you live in the county, by the way, vaccination clinics begin today. Call public health to determine where, but beware that they are only dosing 6-24 month olds and care providers for those under 6 months. Pregnant women (the group with a death rate of 1 in 9) are on their own.

Hell of a way to run public health, if you ask me.

Monday, November 9, 2009

How Dey Do Dat?

Courtesy of my uncle Richard, I received this photo this morning. I had never seen it. Taken in 1935, it shows my father's brothers and sisters - before my father and his youngest brother, the afore-mentioned Richard, were born.

From top to bottom, left to right, Robert, 14, Helen, 12, Roger, 10, Don, 8, Doris, 6, Dorothy, 4, and Ted, 2.

My father would come along 4 years later and uncle Richard in 1941.

Of the 9 total kids born to my grandmother, only 5 are still living. (For some reason I think I remember hearing of yet another child who died at birth but can't be certain.)

I feel overwhelmed with 3 kids. How in the world did families cope with this many children in the midst of the Depression?

All of them look healthy and happy here - except for little Teddy. That scowl must be because of the overalls.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Age

Got a friend request this morning from an old high school classmate. She has an abundance of photos from my recent 30th high school reunion - a reunion I didn't attend.

There is nothing - and I mean nothing - that will make you feel older than looking at pics of one of these things. It's like a freaking AARP convention. You can delude yourself when you look in the mirror, but that is entirely shattered when you see your contemporaries 30 years on.

Man, we're old.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Are We The New Conservative Parents?

Papa W assists young W with "the Tie"

I recently jumped on the Facebook bandwagon at the urging of my beloved wife. I had hesitated for a long time even though I had an account with FB because I couldn't imagine finding the time to maintain a page there let alone follow the pages of others. But here I am - once you are sleep-deprived what's a little more deprivation?

In the process I have reaquainted myself with some pals (hey all!) and enjoyed gandering at their photos of their growing families.

One picture got me thinking. It was a school pic for the charming boy produced by some wiley characters. In it he is wearing a tie. Based on the other children pictured it did not seem to be a requirement. A tie. It got me thinking.

There's a trend I've noticed. Just hints mind you, but it indicates something interesting to me.

Most of my friends have now produced offspring. Many of them came late to spawning, like myself (though none as late as I), and so I base my thoughts on them. The same may not hold true of younger parents.

It seems to me that as left-leaning as we all are, we seem to be rather conservative regarding our children. The tie is a useful symbol of that.

Most of us were ourselves raised in a rather liberal atmosphere, our parents having broken the bonds of the traditional family ideals they themselves were raised within. They eschewed ties and other conservative trappings favored by their parents for indivdual freedoms. We in turn took advantage of our parents' liberal ethos. Divorce and family dissolutions were commonplace in our generation and provided even less opportunity for parental supervision - more freedom. We galavanted and experimented and explored and indulged. We did not suffer rigidity.

Are we blowing back? Have we re-upped our stakes in more trad values regarding our own kids? Is this, consciously or not, a backlash against the tenor of our own unsupervised youth, the lack of dress codes, the absence of curfews, the latchkey childhoods?

I don't have the answer, nor am I making a judgement one way or the other.

But I will say this: if what we are doing includes the simple perfection of teaching a son how to tie his tie, then that's a good thing.

I should know - I learned to tie mine from a book.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Wow

Hate to steal another's post, but it's just too good.

As Sully says,
"An actual animal - from Earth."

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Eating Their Own

The Atlantic collects an interesting sampling of opinion from far right pundits on the possibility of Newt Gingrich running for the Republican Prez Nom in 2012. It seems they hate him. They think he's too liberal. Seriously.

Newt deserves the abuse - he is reaping what he's sown - but the GOP is coming apart at the seams. They are eating their own. The evangelical, tea-bagging, conspiracy touting, wingnuts are off the deep end and destroying one of the two major parties of our two party system.

I consider myself fiercely independent - left-leaning, but unaffiliated with any party. I like it that way. I don't believe in party lines and good ideas can come from anywhere. It's hard to be independent however, balancing arguments from both sides, when there is basically only one party. The Dems, though not loved much more than their counterparts, are at least cohesive. I dread the idea of a failed GOP. I dread the idea that a party that produced the likes of Senator Alan Simpson could instead find its voice amongst the Malkins and the Becks and the Bachmans. I didn't often agree with Simpson but I always thought he was reasonable, that he could be swayed with intelligent argument and above all remain cordial and respectful of those with whom he disagreed.

The GOP as it exists today has nothing to do with intelligence, nothing to do with reason, and as for respectful and cordial - forget it. It is cannabalistic in the extreme, feeding on its own anger and the flesh of those that dare slip out of line. It has become a vicious, anti-everything mob that offers no reasonable alternatives and instead waits breathlessly for the next mindless twitter from Palin, or marching orders from Limbaugh. It's leaders no longer lead. It's remaining thinkers like Snow are marginalized and abused. It is dying an agonizing and bitter death. I am reminded of a passage from Eric Larsen's An American Memory where he discusses his father, but could just as easily be describing the GOP:

How much anger there was in my father: something in him made him wish to destroy himself, to destroy others as well, to pull down the world around him and trample it in angry spite... My father agonistes: his emotional life a ganglionlike bondage of knots that grew tighter and more unrelieving with the struggle. There were times - in winter, on the farm, in the bottom of despair - when I imagine, had my father been an animal, that he would have devoured us one at a time, then shrunk into his lair to gnaw slowly with sullen and furious spite at his own limbs and flesh.

This is the party of Lincoln today, and one imagines it will only get worse before it gets better.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Memo To Health Department

Hey, County Health Department:

Maybe you wouldn't have been so "shocked at the low turnout" for the pug vax clinic last Saturday if every time anyone called for info you didn't tell them you were out of it and had no vaccination clinics scheduled.

Oh, and when your people on the phone say you have no vax but we go ahead and come on down to your regular once-a-week vaccination clinic just in case, perhaps an address that faces the street and not the back of the building would be nice too.

And you might want to think about an entrance next to that address that isn't blocked with a cage so people like me must circle the enormous old structure with kids in tow in order to find another door.

And how about setting it up in the children's health clinic where we finally ended up, instead of having them look at us as if we're morons and saying it isn't in this part of the building, but in the hospital portion.

And perhaps if that previously mentioned hospital in another part of the building had an intake area where staff didn't say they had no vaccinations and had no affiliation with the Health Department and had no idea what I was talking about things might go more smoothly.

And how bout something to avoid the maze of halls, dead ends, double doors, "employee only" areas and annexes that must be negotiated just to get to you in spite of the idiots in the intake area.

And finally, maybe some clearer signage on your door besides just "TB Testing".

Of course all the obstacles might explain why there was no wait at all when we found you after an hour and twenty minutes, so bonus points to us for enduring the nonsense.

That box of vaccine still looks pretty full and the staff looks pretty bored. Hmm, can't understand why.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Bring Out Yer Dead!

Pug Panic!

The country is going nuts right now, terrified of getting swine flu - Pug (a typo in a text with curry has led to our official designation for the virus - Pug!) People in NYC and Chi were turned away when supplies of the vaccine ran out. Anxious crowds in Fairfax county, VA lined up with camping gear to be certain they got theirs. Women are lying and saying they're pregnant in order to obtain the precious noseblow.

Can I just say something here?
Whoa.

The pug is the flu, misery-making in the extreme perhaps, but for most people not life threatening. If you are immuno-compromised or pregnant, it is a real danger, but everybody else - just don't blow your sick time off on a World Series day and you will get through just fine.

California has been pretty thick with the stuff. In our little town the first death was reported this week. But it's pretty much being taken in stride with just a little more handwashing and care (which should be customary anyway).

The Boy's school last week posted a note on the board in the entry saying be careful and keep the kids home if their sick. They announced several confirmed cases in the school as well. Guess what? Nobody is going overboard. School is open. Kids go everyday. Not a big deal. (Though in the interest of full disclosure my wife is getting a little twitchy re the kids.)

My wife says the hospital has seen an increase of cases, but that the only bad ones have been pregnant women, who have gotten really sick. Other than that, no problems. Hell ,the hospital hasn't even gotten the vax for staff yet!

If you have kids under six months, you should get vaccinated. If you're pregnant, get it. Kids should get it. If you have immune issues, get it. If you care for the public in a healthcare capacity, get it. Otherwise? Ease up, ok? The mortality rate is less than 1/10 of 1%. That's miniscule. This is not the great culling.

Oh and if you are over 50 get out of of line! You probably have antibodies in your system already.

Be smart, wash your hands, cough into your elbow, stay home if you're sick. But really, don't clog the line or lie about your health to get a vaccination that someone else might really need. That is just pure assholism.

Odds are karma will kick you in the ass anyway.

this has been a public service announcement on behalf of Pug Panic Pointers Inc.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

I'm Saving The Human Race...

...just by being an old tired father.

"While it used to be that men had many children in older age to many different women, now men tend to have only a few children at a younger age with one wife. The drop in the number of older fathers has had a major effect on the rate of mutation and has at least reduced the amount of new diversity - the raw material of evolution. Darwin's machine has not stopped, but it surely has slowed greatly."
- Steve Jones, evolutionary biologist at University College London


I will remind myself of that on mornings like this one, where a 7 month old awakens me at 3 am by crawling on my face, growling and hooting, looking for a playmate or any orifice in which to dip its finger, all the while confirming to me that sleep will remain a pipe dream.

My utter lack of desperately needed rest at this rather advanced age is my sacrifice for you, the Human Race.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Tom Cruise-esque

We find out this week that Christian Bale's model for his character in the movie American Psycho was Tom Cruise.

So, in a moment of perfect meta-celebrity mashing, we get this:

Actor Miles Fisher promoting himself as Christian Bale as Tom Cruise in American Psycho (with Talking Heads thrown in for good measure.) It doesn't get odder than this... or as well executed.

Warning: probably NSFW

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Magnet

A couple weeks back I picked the Boy up from school. When I hit the playground I searched the flurry of kids racing back and fourth for my son but didn't find him in his usual spots. When I finally caught sight of him he was holding hands (he holds hands with everybody) with a stunning classmate. This girl will, no doubt, grow into a very attractive woman. She came with the Boy when I called him and I asked who his friend was. He said her name was Jordan. I said hi to her and she smiled before looking earnestly at the Boy and saying, "Bye, Arlo," in a manner I can only describe as flirtatious. She added a little wave with her fingers. I looked at the Boy and knew instantly that he was smitten.

Every day after that it was the same. They would be together playing... just the two of them.

He made her a card. He made her another card. He made her a third card. For the last one he requested the correct spelling of the word "love" and laboriously scripted the letters at the bottom of the card.

I laughed nervously, hoping that he was too young to have his heart broken by the fickle playmate choices that accompany a preschool playground, but what's a dad to do.

Then last week I arrived and there they were, but there was a third - another gorgeous kid, with pale skin and jet black hair. I had seen her before. She plays on his soccer team and the two of them are frequently holding hands on the field (ignoring the game.) She too raced over to make her good byes to the boy. She was introduced as Brienna. In unison, she and Jordan waved and said more flirtaciously than you could imagine 4 year olds being, "Goodbye Arloooo."

It was weird.

Cards were made for Jordan and Brienna. Birthday party invitations were planned. They were frequently the topic of conversation. And every day they were all together, or if I arrived late and one of the girls had already been picked up he would be with the remaining one. No one else was ever a part of their play.

Until today...

I arrived to find the Boy climbing up the monkey bars, Jordan to one side and Brienna to the other, the three of them delighting in one another's company. But following close behind was a girl both my wife and and I had noticed before. A beautiful child with very light brown, creamy caramel skin and a stunning head of curling, dark brown hair that any woman would die for. I looked over the entire playground. The three girls with my son were the prettiest little girls there, without a doubt... seriously.

When the Boy saw me he leaped down and raced over to me, followed by Jordan and Brienna. The new girl stayed behind, looking on, as if taking notes on the ritual.

After Jordan and Brienna had made their standard flirty byes the Boy climbed from my arms and said he needed to say goodbye to Regan. I asked if that was the other girl's name and he said yes. The three raced back to the bars and the Boy hugged the new member of the group. She smiled broadly. The quartet completed their farewells.

I had this vision of these three cute girls plotting to rip my poor innocent boy's heart out of his chest. I imagined it all as some flirting playground joke with my son as the butt. I saw the worst for my kid - after all, cute as I might think he is, three pretty girls fawning over him to the exclusion of all others seemed absurd.

I turned to one of the teachers standing behind me and who had been watching the scene unfold. "Ok, what's the deal with him and all the girls anyway," I asked her.

"Oh come on," she said as if I was some kind of idiot. And then she added with a sly smile, "The boy is a total magnet."

Great, more worries.

addendum: It occurs to me that it is not the Boy who is being led on, but that he is doing the leading. He will be the one to crush playground hearts under foot - the object of preschool catfights. "Now girls, there's plenty of me to go around."

Much worse than my original concerns.

Update

Regarding yesterday's post about the Girl.

I had another conversation this morning with the Girl's OT. She is new to the Girl's case, brought in when the previous OT had left during the budget cuts. I asked her if she would describe the Girl's condition as possibly being apraxia. She said that Occupational Therapy uses the term dyspraxia and that apraxia is used by Speech therapists, though they refer to the same things. And then she got a quizzical look and added that she wouldn't say "possible" in the Girl's case; she would say definitive - she thought we knew that. I told her that no one had officially described it with that term though I had been asking about it for 8 months. She said that she didn't care what anyone else thought, it's classic dyspraxia.

The speech therapist has avoided the term, and though I have great respect for her and her work, I have wondered why. If the Girl is apraxic she is probably atypical. She can do things with speech that a typical apraxia case can not. Nonetheless, motor planning is involved in both movement and speech and if it is the problem with her body it is more than likely the cause for her speech problems.

What does this all mean?

It means in a classic good news/bad news scenario that she should qualify for services. It is a substantial learning disability so special education and instruction should be put in place when she turns three (just try to keep her out, just try and see what happens!).

However, dyspraxia is almost always life-long. Most dyspraxics have poor short-term memory making following instructions difficult (though ironically long-term memory tends to be better than average.) Most dyspraxics have trouble writing or even using writing utensils. Some dyspraxics also have dyslexia and dyscalculia (difficuty with mathematics), though some have excellent reading and mathematics skills. Some have ADHD. Many never learn to drive a car because of poor spacial perception and difficulty combining a series of physical motions. They have difficulty distinguishing right from left.

Combine that with her hypotonia and life isn't going to be easy for her.

It is ghastly to imagine that we are in a sense relieved that she has officially been pinned with this.

She should get services - Yay!

She will probably need them for her entire life - ...(there isn't even a word to describe it).

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Swiss Girl

She is bright beyond her age. She understands complex instructions and situations. She is empathetic and sympathetic. She has a great sense of humor about herself and others. She laughs and plays and does her best to share her thoughts about the world as she discovers it. She is (more often than not) a delightful human being with enormous capacity for subtlety.

She stumbles. She walks into doors. She falls, often while simply standing still. She is barely understood when she speaks. She is easily frustrated with herself and others. She is becoming aware that she is not like her peers, that she can not do the things that they can do, can not say the things that they can say (at least not so she is understood.) She is sad more often than the boy for no apparent reason. She loves to dance, but it makes for fearful viewing for her parents - the threat of injury all too real. She is trapped inside a body that does not obey her commands.

My daughter remains a mystery to us, and to her various therapists, and doctors, and diagnosticians. The official description of her condition (and that's what it is - a description; not a diagnosis) is hypotonia, low or weak muscle tone, and a problem with her praxia foundation: the motor plan is lost or distorted on its way through the brain or to the muscles. In other words, she is weak and floppy and can not get her body to do what whe wants it to do.

In her speech she is difficult to understand, even by us. If she says something out of the blue without the benefit of context as toddlers often do we are lost. She must repeat it and repeat it until we get the gist, or until either she or we just give up. We have found ourselves nodding in agreement upon occasion without understanding her just to avoid the mutual frustration. Some words are quite clear and would give the impression she is a typical two year old. But usually there is something substantial missing: a consonant is absent, a vowel is altered, the word is utterly mangled.

She uses long complex sentences. They have clauses, qualifiers and grammar beyond her age, but it would be hard for anyone but those that know her to hear it. There are words that she has never been capable of saying, certain letters she has never mastered, even after nearly 8 months of therapy and countless hours at home with us working on it. There have been improvements but not what we had hoped for, not what would be expected even from simply getting older.

She wants the words to come out. You can see her concentrate to make herself understood. But the signals her brain sends to her mouth are not translated into muscle action. Those muscles just don't get the message right.

She can't jump. She winds up, bends her knees, springs upward, but her feet never leave the ground. She can bounce on a trampoline but her feet never leave its surface. By her age or a little younger she should be able to jump over a string 8-14" off the ground. Being able to jump with both feet leaving the ground is a development that should be seen at around 18 months. She is 32 months old.

She can not pinch a clothespin, let alone work scissors. She runs with a painfully awkward gate: arms high and pumping, legs swinging to the sides, a sense of disaster with every step. She can not control her body in space, is not aware of her physical self in a way the rest of us take for granted. So she walks into things that she sees, that she is aware are there, but can't move to avoid. She falls down while standing because she suddenly stops sending the unconscous signals to her legs to keep a group of muscles tensed and remain erect.

Even when the signals arrive the muscles themselve are weak, not because they are unused, but because an inexplicable genetic mutation that is as yet unknown simply makes the muscles fail to work well. She has a difficult time sitting up from a prone position - it requires enormous effort. She feels floppy in your arms when you lift her. She is not strong. We exercise her regularly to increase her strength to its potential, but that potential is considerably less than that of a typical child. Athletics are unlikely for her despite her great enthusiasm for physical activity. Sadly, an increase in her boldness has not been equalled by an increase in capability. She has gone from skinned knees to genuinely dangerous falls from height. The threat of injury seems to have grown exponentially. She is cautious, but two year olds are not known for their decision-making skills. She may be bright, but she still does stupid things.

The State of California has provided her with occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy, group therapy and special education visits. She has been shuttled to her various appointments day in and day out. But when she turns 3 next February she is kicked out. She is not considered profoundly delayed enough to qualify for services. She must be 2 years behind, cognitively disabled in some way. So at 3 she must be functioning at the level of a 1 year old to stay in and she is further along than that.

Her occupational therapist described her this morning as a block of swiss cheese: she seems fine at first glance, but then you discover all these holes in there. She can, for example, throw a ball overhand with great accuracy and force, something she has been doing since she was 1, but for most children is not mastered until 3. Yet, she can not walk up or down stairs alternating her legs as she goes. She can draw delightful circles, yet a vertical and horizontal line crossing one another is beyond her. She can kick a ball and chase it easily, but is utterly incapable of standing on one foot for even a moment. She can ride a push car at great speed and turn it on a dime, narrowly avoiding collisions, yet she can not get down from a chair without falling half the time. She can do many things, and some things she can not do at all.

We are at a loss. We have had tests done and evaluations completed and work-ups performed. The testers and evaluators and work-upers, the doctors and therapists and diagnosticians are all vague regarding the causes and just as vague regarding possible outcomes. It could resolve with therapy and disappear in a couple of years, or it could never get much better and she may spend her life similarly delayed - always with the swiss cheese holes, always behind in some way. So we have more tests scheduled at a facility that specializes developmental disabilities in children under five in the hopes that they can find what others have not. We may come up empty in our search for answers, diagnosies and prognosies, but we can't whistle through the darkness any longer.

We feel we are in a very dark pit and though I think we can deal with the hole, without some light - some illumination - we can never know where the walls are, how deep the hole is, and ultimately if there is a way out.

She is joyful beyond measure. She is profoundly worrying.

And we have begun to feel desperate.

The Boy's Question Of The Day

From this morning at breakfast:

"If rocks don't grow then how do we get big rocks?"

Guess I'm A Sap

A genuinely sweet story with some good-natured, stereotypical humor. After months of bitterness re gay marriage/adoption it's just nice to see something like this.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Threats Are Real

Listing of places the Department of Homeland Security deemed likely targets of terrorism and the funding they got as a result in 2007:



In the interest of full disclosure I should note my wife and I honeymooned at Carhenge... seriously.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Problem With Speed Reading

Earlier this week a man named Jack Price slipped down to the 24 hour grocery on the corner near his home in Queens New York for a pack of cigarettes. As he left the store he was jumped by two men and beaten senseless - nearly to death - and is hospitalized with a broken jaw, fractured ribs and a lacerated spleen. He was in an induced coma until yesterday.

Jack Price is gay. The two attackers beat him because of that. They have since been arrested, but claim their actions were in self-defense - that Price attacked them first. Sadly for the two men a security camera shows their claims to be utterly false and that they were entirely unprovoked.

After their arrest a friend of the two attackers was interviewed on local news. He claimed that Mr. Price was homosexual and deserved what he got. He then showed off his tattoo. It is from the Old Testament, Leviticus 18:22. The verse is commonly used as evidence of homosexuality's evil.

You know, I don't really care what one believes. If one chooses to think that homosexuality is an abomination, that is one's right. I can not change another's deeply held beliefs with legislation, nor should I try. But if that man so deeply believes in his bible, if he considers the words therein so profound, if he feels so strongly that they should govern not just his life but all of our lives - if he thinks it's so important that he would have those words inked upon his body... well, maybe he should have bothered reading the very next chapter of that Book of Leviticus...

Leviticus 19:28
“Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD.”
- King James Bible

Or perhaps the New King James' more precise:
"You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you: I am the LORD."

Or how about the New International Version:
"Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the LORD."

I can add more but any way you look at it the very book of the Bible that our inked prophet uses to defend his bashing buddies and displays proudly upon his arm also specifically forbids him from getting that tattoo in the first place.

Don't care what you believe, but hypocrisy in any form is pretty much bullshit. Soooo...

Shut the fuck up!

Oh and as a side note an anti-gaybashing rally was held in Queens today to support Mr. Price. There were actually counter-protestors... at a rally against beating people senseless without provocation... seriously. People protesting because they favor bashing! Best of all though? One of those counter-protestors was, yeah, you guessed it, Mr Leviticus Tattoo.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Potency

There are blog posts that fall under "too much information" and I've hesitated for a while on this as a result, but the situation has become so bizarre and frustratingly comical that... well... live with it.

The Norse God of male fertility is plucky little bugger named Freya. He's responsible for the rain and sunshine and thus, the fertility of the Earth. He's also the god of love. Despite being of Norse descent myself, I had never heard of the guy. But he's apparently taken a real shine to me.

You all may remember a little procedure I underwent just prior to the Super Bowl this year. Three kids was my absolute, no-going-back, limit and so I got fixed. The whole thing was pretty simple and aside from a urologist who insisted on showing me the items he was snipping from my nether regions, and the running commentary he provided (in his West African accent) as he did so - "You have enormous vas deferens! Biggest I've seen." - it wasn't bad.

Six weeks post I had to provide him with a "sample" to be certain I was in fact sterile. The whole sample thing is... well... weird. Here's a cup. Do your business. Deliver cup to lab. When I visited the doc for that appointment the count was <1 per ml, which is right on track but it isn't zero. So another appointment was scheduled for 6 weeks on, and another cup was provided. I dispatched my cup to the lab and went to visit doc again. This time the count was 98 per ml. "Have you been having sex?" the urologist queried.

"Yes, I have," I snapped, defensively.

"Well, it sometimes takes a while to clear it out. Just keep using birth control and we'll see you again in 8 weeks. Here's a cup."

Two months later I deliver my cup to the lab and go see my doc. "I am baffled," he said as he studied the lab report. "How can you have 1111 per ml? That is just a strange number. 1-1-1-1. We will have to do it again. Let's see you in 3 months."

"But it's increasing," I said, just a wee bit concerned. "Should that be happening?"

"Well, if it was anything more than just clearing it would be in the millions, so don't worry. I once had a patient go a full year before we got to zero. Here's a cup."

So three months go by and I take my cup over to the lab last Friday. I get a call late in the afternoon. "Hi, Lex. I'm terribly sorry but something happened with your sample. It sort of spilled. All over. Everything. We'll need another."

"I have an appointment next week," I said, "and I can't do it right now. And I need another cup!"

"Well the hospital's open tomorrow. You could just do it down there," she suggested helpfully.

"It's a sperm sample. It's not like just peeing in a cup. It's a little more involved than that and the hospital is less than ideal for the process. I'll just deliver another to you on Monday."

"Ok then. Sorry again," she said, and hung up.

I had my wife bring home a specimen cup from work and bright and early Monday morning I did my duty... again.

Today I saw the doc.

"Do you remember the last time the count was 1111 per ml," he asked. "Well, this time it is 2222 per ml. Do you know what the odds are for that? I think they are getting the counts wrong. I called the lab and they claim the numbers are right, but really, 1111 and then 2222? Come on. So let's try a different lab."

"Ok, whatever," I sighed, "But what if those numbers come back and they say I really am at, I don't know, 2498 or something? What if the number actually is rising? What then?"

"I have been at this a long time," he said, "and I have never seen this before. Never. If somehow there was a reattachment we would see huge numbers, and we aren't. But we should not be seeing increasing numbers of any size, so I'm at a loss. The only thing I can think of is this lab just can't do their job. That's my only explanation."

I threw my hands up. "Well I'm getting a little tired of it," I whined.

"I understand," he said sympathetically, "Here's a cup."

I have an appointment with him (again!) in two weeks.

In the meantime I remain a medical freak.

And that Norse God of fertility had better find somebody else to work his mojo on cause my cup runneth over, thank you very much.