Saturday, January 31, 2009
Every time we go to the doctor, we have a $15 co-pay. On top of that, there is always a $3 parking fee (that's with validation). And the parking attendant only takes cash.
So once, twice or three times a week, we have to dig out our wallets and scrounge for the $3 in assorted bills and change. You can get a monthly pass for $30 but it only applies to one parking structure at one end of the hospital campus and ends up being about $2-5 more than if we just pony up the full fare each time.
But it's maddening. It feels like you are being driven to bankruptcy $3 at a time . . .
The wife (who is a little more outspoken about these things) expressed her frustration to the pediatrician's office one morning a couple of weeks ago and the nurse exclaimed, "I can't believe you don't have a placard!"
Placard? What placard? No one said anything about a placard . . .
The nurse grabbed a form, had the doc scribble some notes on the back and she handed it to the wife. It was an application for a handicapped placard (see above) . . . . which . . . well . . . huh . . .
"I don't see how this helps us," I said to the wife . . . "we don't need to park closer to the doors at the grocery store . . . we need to not be paying $3 for parking at the hospital every time we go there . . . and furthermore, there is no reason we cannot park in a normal space and I cannot imagine myself ever using a handicapped stall . . ."
We both agreed that the nurse had misunderstood and we decided to toss the application. Even if we could qualify, we didn't need it and . . . more importantly . . . didn't want it . . .
When we were at the hospital for surgery last week, it occurred to me that maybe the nurse hadn't misunderstood at all, maybe we were the ones who had misunderstood . . . . We got the pediatrician's office on the phone to schedule an appointment and I asked the nurse . . . "Now, this handicapped parking pass . . . . if we have one of those, do we need to pay for parking when we come to the hospital?"
The nurse explained that not only would we be able to park for free at Children's Hospital but that we could park for free at every hospital and in every publicly owned parking space in the state of California . . . as in never feed a parking meter again . . . .
I sheepishly asked if she would mind giving us another application as I had thrown our first one in the trash . . . . We picked up the new form, filled it out, and it fell to the wife to visit the DMV (department of motor vehicles) to do what needed to be done.
So with mixed emotions about it all, the wife approached the desk at the DMV and handed over the paperwork. "Are you Annabelle?" the attendant asked . . . "No," the wife replied, "I am her mom . . ." Which is just weird on so many levels . . .
First of all, it is one of the only times Holly has used the phrase "I am her mom" when dealing with bureaucracy outside of the hospital - so there is a minor milestone there . . . but stranger still was the feeling that the attendant and the wife were using the same words to communicate totally different things.
It feels like the attendant was saying, "So you are the mother of a handicapped child in a wheelchair . . ." while the wife was saying, "We are all just fine, thank you. My little girl is a total rock-star and we don't even need this gall-darned thing except that we are sick and tired of paying for parking at the hospital."
I am probably reading too much into it but when you hold that placard in your hand for the first time as a parent of an extraordinary child it makes the mind reel . . .
So now the "drawing of the line" begins . . . we most certainly WILL NOT be paying for parking at the hospital anymore . . . . and am pretty sure I am not going to be feeding any parking meters so long as the wee one is with me . . . . but actually parking in the blue stalls? . . . . uuuhhhh . . . probably not . . . .
. . . .unless of course all the other spaces are taken . . . .
. . . . or it is raining . . .
. . . or I am tired . . . .
. . . or in a hurry . . . . or . . . .
Just kidding about that last part, of course . . . . I think . . . .
No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. - 1st Corinthians 10:13
I am the only one to blame for this
Somehow it all ends up the same
Soaring on the wings of selfish pride
I flew too high and like Icarus I collide
With a world I try so hard to leave behind
To rid myself of all but love
to give and die
To turn away and not become
Another nail to pierce the skin of one who loves
more deeply than the oceans,
more abundant than the tears
Of a world embracing every heartache
Can I be the one to sacrifice
Or grip the spear and watch the blood and water flow
To love you - take my world apart
To need you - I am on my knees
To love you - take my world apart
To need you - broken on my knees
All said and done I stand alone
Amongst remains of a life I should not own
It takes all I am to believe
In the mercy that covers me
Did you really have to die for me?
All I am for all you are
Because what I need and what I believe are worlds apart
I look beyond the empty cross
forgetting what my life has cost
and wipe away the crimson stains
and dull the nails that still remain
More and more I need you now,
I owe you more each passing hour
the battle between grace and pride
I gave up not so long ago
So steal my heart and take the pain
and wash my feet and cleanse my pride
take the selfish, take the weak,
and all the things I cannot hide
take the beauty, take my tears
the sin-soaked heart and make it yours
take my world all apart
take it now, take it now
and serve the ones that I despise
speak the words I can't deny
watch the world I used to love
fall to dust and thrown away
I look beyond the empty cross
forgetting what my life has cost
so wipe away the crimson stains
and dull the nails that still remain
so steal my heart and take the pain
take the selfish, take the weak
and all the things I cannot hide
take the beauty, take my tears
take my world apart, take my world apart
I pray, I pray, I pray
take my world apart
Friday, January 30, 2009
? mi / ? min / ? mpm?
The other day I unplugged the widget from the Ipod after my run and put it in a very safe place . . . so safe that I couldn't find it this morning . . . I am sure it will turn up.
I do know that I did my usual 40 minutes today and the longest stretch of running without walking was 25 minutes. The inside of my left knee hurt a little after the run but it seems to be fine now.
I feel like one of those submarine movies where the captain orders the crew to "take her down" beyond the recommended depth. The crew goes silent as they listen to the groans, moans and occasional *clank* of the hull as it comes under the pressure of the sea.
Most of the clanks and groans are harmless, of course . . . . but it is that one, big, *BANG!* followed by the unmistakable sound of rushing water that the crew is straining to hear . . .
What I mean is that on every run, my body (knees especially) clank and groan and moan. Every little twinge makes me stop and think "Is this a big deal?? . . ." *Eeeeerrrrrrgghhhh* *Cunk* *Aiiiieeeeeerrrrr* . . . . "It's probably nothing . . . . continue descent helmsman Smith . . ."
The first photo above is one of the sculptures along the harbor - it is a whimsical Kaleidoscope pointed out at the bay. I noticed that there seemed to be a little bit of light coming out the far end and when I looked into the thing - the second picture is what I saw. Pretty neat stuff . . .
I know, the photos are horrible . . . but there is only so much you can do when you run in the dark armed only with a cell phone for a camera . . .
I listened to a podcast this morning that had me laughing out loud . . . it was "Act 1" from This American Life. Their theme this week was "Big breaks" - people who finally get the break they have been waiting for only to see it all go awry.
Act 1 is about Charlie Brill and Mitzi McCall.
Here is the Teaser:
Charlie Brill and Mitzi McCall were a comedy duo back in the mid-1960s, playing clubs around Los Angeles, when their agent called to tell them he'd landed them the gig of a lifetime: They were going to be on The Ed Sullivan Show. The only problem was that their performance was a total fiasco, for a bunch of reasons, including one they never saw coming.
It is worth a listen.
As a caution: In my humble opinion, This American Life has a decidedly left-of-center bent most weeks. Some people may find the prologue politically controversial. Act 2 certainly ends on a dark note and Act 3 is fascinating but terribly sad and most definitely not appropriate for children under the age of 13 in my estimation . . .
Act 1 is hilarious though - just fast-forward over the stuff you don't care for . . .
Hey! Smile! It's Friday!
Shots fired in the House of Representatives
In the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol, President Andrew Jackson, the seventh president of the United States, survives the first attempt against the life of a U.S. president.
65 Years Ago Today
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, the political and spiritual leader of the Indian independence movement, is assassinated in New Delhi by a Hindu fanatic.
I think the movie is actually quite good . . .
37 Years Ago Today
Bloody Sunday in Northern Ireland
In Londonderry, Northern Ireland, 13 unarmed civil rights demonstrators are shot dead by British Army paratroopers in an event that becomes known as "Bloody Sunday." The protesters, all Northern Catholics, were marching in protest of the British policy of internment of suspected Irish nationalists. British authorities had ordered the march banned, and sent troops to confront the demonstrators when it went ahead. The soldiers fired indiscriminately into the crowd of protesters, killing 13 and wounding 17.
In honor of the Super Bowl and our need to cram our faces full of processed foods with funny names, we created this football stadium made entirely out of snack foods.
The Nichalsons don't expect you to believe something beyond the laws of physics is at work on their backyard patio.
But they do want you to know that the image that has now appeared on their grill cover certainly does look a lot like their old dog Fletcher.
"It's very freaky," Steve Nicholson said. "It is a little spooky."
"Yep, we've joined the club," his wife Peggy added with a smile.
She's referring to the seemingly endless parade of images that have been appearing on rather normal things in recent years (or at least as long as the internet has been around).
On a more serious note . . . (depending on your viewpoint)
One night years ago, after having a bunch of friends over, a good friend started asking some very pointed questions about my faith specifically and Christianity in general.
At that time in his life he counted his dawg as best friend / soul mate (and it was a darn good dawg). He wanted to know if dawgs went to heaven. He even went so far as to say that he did not want anything to do with any belief system that did not allow for his dawg to meet him in the afterlife.
Somewhere in my reading or listening to sermons over the years, I heard one of the best explanations I have ever found on the issue.
The question was, if God is the god of the universe, is he also the god of aliens (assuming they exist)? What about animals? What is God's relationship to them? Do they have souls and do they go on to their own "great reward"?
The answer was that the Bible is the story of man's relationship with God. It is our story and our story alone. God's story for animals is between him and them - and not necessarily any of our business. Just as ol' Buckers cannot read the Bible and understand the ins and outs of my relationship with the creator, I cannot experience God the way he does and understand his relationship with God.
Man walks his path and dawgs walk theirs and if heaven is as good as they all say it is, I can only assume that my path and the pooches' will intersect in the great beyond.
One thing is for sure, if dawgs go to heaven, I am pretty sure it is a leash-free zone!
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Up the street from me lived the Cibulski family. If memory serves, there were 4 boys. Their garage had a shelf lined with their father's boxing trophy's and they had the best climbing tree in the whole neighborhood in their backyard. I saw my first horror movie there . . . the original "Frankenstein" in black and white.
It was in their steeply-sloping driveway that I rode a BMX bike with hand-brakes for the first time and consequently plowed into the side of a passing car.
At one point my mom forbid me to hang out with the Cibulski's as they were "red-necks". A term which made no sense to me as their necks didn't seem any redder than anyone elses . . . .
Every now and again during summer break, the Cibulski's would bust out 4 or 5 sets of boxing gloves. All the neighborhood kids would gather and challenge each other to pre-pubescent bouts of pugilism. We are talking a scene right out of "Stand By Me" or "Sand Lot"- neighborhood boys goofing around like a gang of dopes.
I always attended these "tournaments" but never participated. I had never been in a fight in my life. I didn't understand it. I didn't even enjoy watching it. I just wanted to be with my friends . . .
One day another boy challenged me . . . . I think the other boy was Michael Amadore but I could be wrong. A standing rule was whenever challenged, you had to fight - or forever be known as a wimp and risk utter isolation. I, naturally, declined. That's how terrified I was of boxing (and how certain I was that I would get whupped).
After much argument and protest, the neighborhood boys grabbed me, shoved gloves on my hands and advised me to start swinging, otherwise I would get pulverized . . .
And I did . . . get pulverized . . . that is . . .
It got to the point that I would run around the tree to escape my assailant until the jeers reached a crescendo and then I would stop, take a couple whacks to the kisser (my kisser, that is) and take off running again . . . as the jeers mixed with laughter I started to get humiliated and, as often follows humiliation, I started to get mad . . .
I searched my brain for the one lesson my LAPD dad had taught me . . . was it fake to the face and punch to the gut or was it fake to the gut and punch to the face? . . . *Bang* . . . I couldn't . . *Bam* . . . remember . . . *Kapow* . . .
In desperation, I faked to the other boy's gut - his hands dropped down to block and I aimed for his head with the other glove - throwing my entire 75 lbs-or-so behind the punch to the point that I think my feet were actually off the ground . . .
I knocked him clear into the bushes.
And then I went in after him . . .
The neighborhood boys had to pull me off and by the time they did, I was crying in frustration and rage and the humiliation of it all . . .
I have only really been in one fight since . . . about a month later . . . same guy . . . about the same results . . .
Weekend America had a great story about a "first fight" only this time it was between brothers . . . over an ex-girlfriend . . .
Its worth a listen . . . (language warning - but it is *bleeped* out as they broadcast the article on NPR . . .)
As most are aware, our new "McDreamy" Prez and the Chief Justice botched the oath. What almost no one understands is exactly what went wrong and why.
Grammer Girl breaks it all down and it is great!
William McKinley is born
On this day in 1843, future President William McKinley is born in Niles, Ohio.
McKinley fought bravely as a Union infantryman in the Civil War and was awarded a battlefield commission by Union officer and fellow future President Rutherford B. Hayes. After the war, McKinley passed the bar and practiced law in Ohio. He served as a member of Congress from 1877 to 1890. His congressional career ended with his conception of the unpopular “McKinley tariff,” which set import tax rates at 50 percent, placing an undue burden on working-class Americans. Despite this setback, McKinley won back public support, becoming governor of Ohio in 1891 and running for the presidency in 1896. The next year, McKinley became America’s 25th president. He was joined in office by Vice President Theodore Roosevelt.
I read this in a prayer chain email today that I have been privileged to be a part of for a couple of years. I am one of many, many people who are praying earnestly for a mom in Escondido who has been battling terminal breast cancer (and subsequently the loss of many of her physical abilities) since the birth of her third child who is now 2. It blessed me this morning and I thought it might encourage you too. “Lean Hard” is a battle cry I will plant in my heart and hopefully remember when life is difficult…
The following is a quote a friend sent recently about Psalm 55:22 "Cast your burden upon the Lord, and He shall sustain you." It is written by Octavius Winslow, a Baptist preacher in the early 1800's.. I have found it quite comforting. Maybe sometime you will too.
". . .I (Jesus) bore the load of your sin and condemnation up the steep of Calvary, and the same power of omnipotence and the same strength of love that bore it all for you then, is prepared to bear your need and sorrow now. Roll it all upon Me!! Child of My love! Lean hard! Let Me feel the pressure of your care. I know your burden, child! I shaped it--I poised it in My own hand and made no proportion of its weight to your unaided strength. For even as I laid it on, I said I shall be near, and while she leans on Me, this burden shall be Mine, not hers. So shall I keep My child within the encircling arms of My own love. Here lay it down! Do not fear to impose it on a shoulder which upholds the government of worlds! Yet closer come! You are not near enough! I would embrace your burden, so I might feel My child reposing on My breast. You love Me! I know it. Doubt not, then. But, loving me, lean hard!"
As a new father myself, I have been surprised at how strong my desire is that my little girl will lean into my chest when I hold her. I want my strength, my smell, my hands to bring comfort to her. I want her to burrow into my chest. I long for her to "lean hard".
I suppose our heavenly father feels the same way . . . .
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Broke the 12 minute mile marker!
So let's see, we have had "Up with the sun", "Up with the bakers", "Up with the concrete guys" and "Up with the college kids" . . . . add to that, "Up with the fish mongers"!
This fish processing center sits at the North end of Seaport Village on the bay. The ocean is about 50 feet behind me in this photo and boats can dock right there and unload their catch for processing. These guys work in a refrigerated room and are there every morning.
To be more accurate, I think the term "fish monger" refers to the person who sells the fish - which means I was was up with the "fish processors" which really doesn't have the same ring to it.
I am pretty sure I have seen the fish monger though. He sits in an adjacent room. One of those construction offices - you know, the kind of office you find on a work site. An office that is a means to an end - littered with the materials of people who actually MAKE STUFF as opposed to an office such as mine, which is an end in itself. The office is the stuff . . .
I have seen this guy through the window a few times. In his late thirties or so, he looks like he could have been a football player in his prime. Usually bundled up in parka in the pre-dawn darkness, hunched over his glowing computer monitor, sucking down coffee out of a travel mug as if it was the very air he breathes. Meanwhile, the ESL folks (English as a second language) are in the fridge with razor-sharp knives.
I can picture it now, him muttering to himself that if only his father hadn't started this whole fish-place . . . *sluuurp* . . . . if only he didn't have to give up afternoons and weekends throughout high school and college to help out at the shop . . . *sluuurrrrp* . . . he could have gone all the way baby . . . the pros . . . . *sluurrrrrp* . . .
Of course, if his father didn't start that whole fish-place in the first place, it could be him in the fridge, filleting salmon . . . .
But we don't think in terms of what hardships we have avoided - we focus on what we may have lost . . . and anyways, a shrug and an "it could be worse . . ." is not really the stuff of our dreams . . . .
But of course, I have only glimpsed the guy twice for a total of 10 seconds so what do I know? . . . .
But that's not what I wanted to write about . . .
Thank you Thank you to those who have commented and e-mailed in suggestions regarding knee pain and avoiding injuries.
I think I am going to follow my wife's advice and pick up insoles for my office shoes. Fortunately, the boss-man has declared the remainder of the week "casual".
Why is it that "casual day" sounds like "Rex Manning Day" to me?
From Empire Records:
Maybe because they are both special occasions that reek with a certain pathetic desperation . . . . whoopie. rex manning day.
But seriously, I love casual days.
Aaaaaanywaaaayyy . . . I am wearing cushy shoes for the rest of the week so I have a few days before I have to hunt down the inserts.
I am also going to take reader Gillian's advice and get a foam roller for my knees. I have had these suggested to me more than once and Gillian's recommendation is the one pushing me over the edge. $13 to avoid an injury sounds like a pretty good investment to me . . .
My long-lost friend Toby suggested that I have my gait analyzed to make sure I have the proper shoes - which sounds like a good idea . . . the next time I buy shoes. These only have about 100 miles on them so I probably have a while to go for that one.
Toby also suggested that I get regular massages . . . which . . . sounds great but . . . I don't see myself bounding in the door at 6am, back from a run, and asking the wife, "Hon, when you're done nursing and before you get in the shower, would you give me a rub-down?? What? I should stick what? where? Honey! Not in front of the baby!"
To be fair, my friend actually suggested that I massage myself which just doesn't work for me . . . it's like commenting on your own blog . . . or voting for yourself for prom king (not that I ever did that, mind you . .) . . . it just doesn't feel right . . .
The recent Phidippidations podcast was all about running injuries and he suggested going online and hunting down IT band stretches - which also sounds like a good idea.
But back to why my wife won't massage my tired legs . . . . What I was ruminating on this morning is the shop-worn question of "Is running an inherently selfish pursuit?" Think about it - you take time out of your day, away from family and friends (usually) . . . to pursue something that makes you and you alone happy.
Think about what you could get accomplished in that 1 1/2 hours spent driving to, working out at, and driving home from, the gym. Think of the hours, days and weeks, spent pounding the pavement with little more than nothing to show for it.
Think of all the things that you put on hold - that you push to the side - that you kick to the next calendar day just so that you can get your scheduled work-out in . . . .
I think a surfer in Step Into Liquid said it best. He said something to the effect of . . . Sure, when you are out there surfing, you aren't producing anything, you aren't contributing to the community, you aren't being productive in the regular sense of the world. . . .
But if by surfing, I am a calmer person, a happier person, a healthier person . . . if because of my surfing I interact with others later in the day in a more civilized manner . . . then maybe I am doing something productive . . . maybe, by surfing, I am making the world a better place . . . .
I am coming to realize that in this inter-connected world that we live in, the pace of life is actually outpacing life itself. The phone calls, the e-mails, the 2-dozen frequent shopper cards that are causing your wallet to burst at the seems. There's piano practice and soccer practice and yoga and pilates and "spinning" and biking and swimming and running and shopping and errands and . . .*WHEW*!
I think more than any generation, ours is the one that has to delineate the good from the best. We just have to learn the simple two-letter word "no".
My family deserves my best. My "girls" deserve to have a father and a husband who is present and with them. But the paradox is, I cannot be wholly "present" unless I break away to work, pay bills, run errands and yes, run. Exercise is one of those things that we all just need. You need to move your muscles and bones and feel the wind in your face. In a strange sort of way, not exercising is a disservice to my family. Whatever my failings are now, I believe they would all be worse without a little sweat-session every other day. I owe it to my family to take care of myself.
Of course there are limits that any reasonable person can figure out for themselves . . . For me, it is every other day. Never more than an hour run on the weekdays (all subject to revision of course).
Which brings me to what I really wanted to talk about this morning . . .
I started this most recent running routine (I actually prefer the term "running joke") this past December 2nd and I have not missed a scheduled day sense I started.
Of all the exercise attempts in my life, this may be the longest running (no pun intended) streak so far. I have run with colds and sore throats and a runny nose, in rain, in snow, over ice in sub-freezing temperatures, on my vacation and even on the day my little girl had brain surgery.
What I have discovered, much to my surprise, is that the consistency has imbued the effort with a deeper meaning - each run seems to have greater impact.
What makes today's run special is not today's run - it is the fact that today's run is part of a chain that includes last Thursday, and Christmas day, and all the days that presented obstacles and challenges.
I feel like if I miss a day because "I don't feel like it", little Annie-lu-who will pipe up and exclaim, "Let me get this straight; I HAD BRAIN SURGERY AND YOU WENT RUNNING BUT TODAY YOU DON'T FEEL LIKE IT????!!"
Each run is like a strand woven into an ever-stronger cable that seems to provide more and more stability, enjoyment and return on investment.
It's the consistency that is the thing.
One last word . . .
There is a lady who sits on the rocks at Ocean Beach every day at sunrise. I have never been there for an early morning go-out when she wasn't there. Sitting on the rocks, or her exercise ball, staring Westward across the sea. every. single. day.
I heard a rumor that her son drowned and that she sits there praying for the surfers . . . a story which seems a little far fetched to me . . .
The thing is, I have often wondered, "How does she do it? Every. Single. Day . . ."
Maybe I am beginning to understand . . . .
Oh, and this morning's run went great BTW . . . longest segment without walking was 20 minutes and the knees felt great!
It is hard to explain little Annabelle's temperament to people who have not experienced it. Most mornings, if she wakes up before we get to her, she will just lay quietly in bed cooing and gah-gahing.
As soon as Annie sees you come in, her face lights up and she grins from ear to ear - sometimes you even get a laugh as a "good morning".
Most of her waking hours she just smiles and laughs and babbles.
When you lay her down for a nap, the minute her little body touches the mattress, her face lights up and she smiles her way to sleep.
It. Is. Amazing.
Now that she is laughing on a regular basis, the parental quest for more smiles and laughter is on! We have discovered that one of the things that gets the most smiles and the most laughter is when we sing to her (especially mom). So we spend a fair amount of time singing and smiling and laughing.
I am convinced that she has picked up on this whole singing thing and has started to sing herself. You can hear her in her crib singing away right after she wakes up or right before she falls asleep. The trouble is, as soon as you turn a camera on, she clams up.
The other day, I finally caught her on tape. It's not one of her better songs but it gives you an idea . . . watch for the moment she sees me standing over her crib . . . We get a response like that just about every single time we go in to pick her up . . .
What a joy!
(BTW, this video was from this past Saturday - just after she had brain surgery. If you look closely, you can catch a glimpse of the incision behind her left ear.)
I just think she is a wonder.
This past weekend, the wife and I settled in for a quiet game of Scrabble. While I would wait for her to finish her turn, I would glance through the Instruction Manual to see what was in store for month #5.
Great Googly Moogly it was all about getting your child to eat solid foods! Already??!!
The wife was on doctor appointment duty yesterday and I asked her to bring up this whole "solid food business" with the Pediatrician. Sure enough, he confirmed that it was about that time . . .
Which is weird because now that the doc said that, I feel sort of like a dead-beat dad just giving her a bottle . . . sort of like feeding your toddler chicken nuggets day after day just because you bought a case of them from Costco and there isn't time to figure anything else out . . .
"Sorry honey, milk again today . . . dadee can't get it together and feed you real food . . . ."
Of course, I am sure the wife has an opinion that is 180 degrees from mine but that's because mom's have a different perspective on the whole feeding thing . . . seeing as how they have been making the meals for the wee one all along . . . . in a manner of speaking . . .
So now what do we do??
The Instruction Manual has all sorts of tips and tricks beginning with starting out with thinned rice cereal . . . .
I would be very interested in hearing from other parents how the whole process went down at your house. Any tips? Any tricks? What is your position on high chairs vs the chairs that clamp to the table? Sippy cup or no sippy cup?
Can you puree bacon? (just kidding about that one . . . we all know bacon is a privilege to be earned - not a right)
Post your suggestions in the comments section or e-mail them to email@example.com .
At 11:38 a.m. EST, on January 28, 1986, the space shuttle Challenger lifts off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, and Christa McAuliffe is on her way to becoming the first ordinary U.S. civilian to travel into space. McAuliffe, a 37-year-old high school social studies teacher from New Hampshire, won a competition that earned her a place among the seven-member crew of the Challenger. She underwent months of shuttle training but then, beginning January 23, was forced to wait six long days as the Challenger's launch countdown was repeatedly delayed because of weather and technical problems. Finally, on January 28, the shuttle lifted off.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
It's what the kids are wearing these days . . . . (I think)
I had to go to the office supply store the other day and when I saw a display of headphones, I remembered that the ones I was using for running had gone caput. The right earphone just buzzes half the time. I think some sweat got into it a while back.
Since the last time I bought headphones was 2005, I was probably due for an update anyway. I had never seen earphones like this. The tips are silicone widgets that can be traded out for different sized widgets (the package came with three sets). Once you remove the widget, the actual speaker is little bigger than the head of a pin. Amazing. They sound pretty good and the cord is nice and long.
I guess this is what the kids are wearing these days although at under $10, I doubt it.
So the run went fine. My longest segment without walking was 15 minutes and it felt great - the new running form/gait makes a big difference. I didn't feel so great later that afternoon though.
The dress shoes I have for work are about 5 years old and whatever minimal cushion they once had is now completely gone. I refuse to wear them around the house because they make such a loud *clunking* sound.
You add that to the office floor which is little more than concrete with a thin veneer of carpet over it and it all amounts to a lot of pounding everyday. I would probably be better off if I walked around the office barefoot but I don't think my co-workers would go for it . . . .
So yesterday afternoon, my left knee began to really hurt. Why did everything feel so good this morning but start to hurt now . . . I wondered. Then it hit me . . . . Running in cushy running shoes for 40 minutes is probably no match for clunking around on concrete in the modern equivalent of a wooden clog for 8 hours.
The wife suggested I pick up some insoles for my work shoes. If anyone has any suggestions, I am all ears!
Nice little read. Of course, it ends the way all dawg stories do . . . .
Once Dooze started visibly declining, our daughter knew something bad was happening, so we told her that Dooze was heading to the moon soon and went through the "it's better on the moon, she'll be happier there" charade. Now she thinks everyone goes to the moon when they die. This will be awkward if she ever meets Neil Armstrong. But that's the part nobody prepares you for -- not just losing your dog, but watching your kids lose their dog. As a parent, you feel obligated to protect your children from the things you don't want them to see, and then suddenly there's your dog slowly dying in the house, and they're seeing it every day. It's not fair.
Monday, January 26, 2009
It was a fantastic experience to be "on my own" for three months. With a job and responsibilities and a little walking around $$ to boot.
As I have mentioned before, I am not much into Facebook or the other one as the ol blog here sort of fills that need for me. A while back, a friend made a good point in saying that at the very least I ought to open an account on each so that people who may be looking for me can find me. So I opened a FaceSpace account, posted a photo of the dawg and pointed to "TheDawgRun".
Recently, someone from my camp staffing days started a forum on facebook for past camp staff members - most of whom seem to be right around my era or afterwards. It is sorta neat to see the photos and reminisce.
I remember that one year (I think it was 1988), the camp staff actually buried a time capsule. We had a big luau to celebrate and I was in charge of most of the food. The maintenance crew set up a make-shift stage and anyone who wanted to contribute to the capsule was welcome to stand up, explain what they were adding, and toss it in.
I only remember two items that were added. The camp manager (Dave Powell), a hard-working man worthy of respect, tossed in his sweat-stained ball cap he had been wearing all summer. I tossed in a photo of my current girlfriend, declaring that in 10 years time, when the capsule was opened, I would be married to her (I haven't been in contact with her for well over a decade now).
So far as I know, the capsule was never dug up and remains buried under the archery range to this day (formally the "gymnastics" area).
The camp has fallen under new management now and we have all mostly gone our separate ways. But I wonder . . . .
2013 would be the 25th anniversary of that time capsule . . . I just wonder . . . .
Oh, and the other thing I remember, I neglected to cook the jumbo shrimp cocktail resulting in at least a dozen or so staffers heaving their guts out afterwards . . . . good times . . .
One ship drives East,
and another drives West,
With the self-same winds that blow;
Tis the set of the sails, and not the gales,
Which tells us the way to go.
Like the winds of the sea are the ways of fate,
As we voyage along through life;
Tis the set of the soul that decides its goal,
And not the calm or the strife.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
A love that lasts forever:
A friendship naught can sever;
A courage never failing,
Though evil seems prevailing;
And joyous, radiant living,
Made glorious by it's giving;
A faith strong and enduring,
Unworthy thoughts obscuring;
And eyes for seeing beauty
In work, in play, in duty;
Life ever onward flowing
And more abundant growing;
Love, courage, faith and sweetness
To make up life's completeness.
First national memorial is ordered by Congress
On this day in 1776, the Continental Congress authorizes the first national Revolutionary War memorial in honor of Brigadier General Richard Montgomery, who had been killed during an assault on Quebec on December 31, 1775.
85 Years Ago Today
First Winter Olympics
On January 25, 1924, the first Winter Olympics take off in style at Chamonix in the French Alps. Spectators were thrilled by the ski jump and bobsled as well as 12 other events involving a total of six sports. The "International Winter Sports Week," as it was known, was a great success, and in 1928 the International Olympic Committee (IOC) officially designated the Winter Games, staged in St. Moritz, Switzerland, as the second Winter Olympics.
14 Years Ago Today
Near launching of Russian nukes
Russia's early-warning defense radar detects an unexpected missile launch near Norway, and Russian military command estimates the missile to be only minutes from impact on Moscow. Moments later, Russian President Boris Yeltsin, his defense minister, and his chief of staff were informed of the missile launch. The nuclear command systems switched to combat mode, and the nuclear suitcases carried by Yeltsin and his top commander were activated for the first time in the history of the Soviet-made weapons system. Five minutes after the launch detection, Russian command determined that the missile's impact point would be outside Russia's borders. Three more minutes passed, and Yeltsin was informed that the launching was likely not part of a surprise nuclear strike by Western nuclear submarines.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Annie is home and doing great.
All along the harbor, there are sculptures that represent reinterpretations of trees. The sculpture pictured above is called "Fairy Tree" - the tree being big mushrooms. Good stuff.
Friday, January 23, 2009
Will shine on you forever
And though I can't guarantee
There's nothing scary hiding under your bed
I'm gonna stand guard like a postcard
Of a Golden Retriever
And never leave till I leave you
With a sweet dream in your bed
I'm gonna watch you shine
Gonna watch you grow
Gonna paint a sign
So you'll always know
As long as one and one is two wooo
There could never be a father who loved
His daughter more than I love you
- From "Father & Daughter" by Paul Simon
No words to say
No words to convey
This feeling inside I have for you
Deep in my heart
Safe from the guards
Of intellect and reason
Leaving me at a loss
For words to express my feelings
Deep in my heart
Deep in my heart
Look at me losing control
Thinking I had a hold
But with feelings this strong
I'm no longer the master
Of my emotions
I am essentially sleeping on a couch down the hall in a meeting room along with a couple of other parents.
It must have seemed alarming to them when my phone rang at midnight, I jumped up and said, "I'll be right there . . ." and disappeared down the hallway.
Turns out that Annie's oxygen is a little low.
This is the monitor she is attached to.
The green line on top is the heart rate, the yellow line in the middle is respiration's and the blue line at the bottom is the oxygen level in her blood.
The way they measure her oxygen level is by taping a little glowing gizmo to a finger or toe:
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Actually, there was a couple of items at home that we wanted so I got permission to get in a run on the way to and fro. I decided a run along the ocean would fit the bill after today. Mission Beach was on the way and I hadn't been there in a while so . . .
A couple of weeks ago we actually ran out of money. Weeeelllll . . . . that's not entirely true. The wife had a $5 bill and I had half a jar of change - 3 days before payday. I figured we probably had about $20 in change and a half-a-tank of gas so we just might make it. As luck would have it, we did make it and still had a big zip-lock of change on the floor of the car.
For the past few days I have been meaning to take the change in to the grocery store to dump it in one of those counting machines. That or either put it back in the jar (It's not like I am going to buy $20 worth of groceries with change unless I absolutely have to). Alas, on the floor of the car it has remained.
As I was stretching beside the car before my run, a panhandler came up with his dawg and asked for change. I handed him the entire bag and wished him a "Happy Brain Surgery Day!".
He was so astonished at the bag of change that he did not catch what I had said, thanked me profusely and walked away.
A man who had just finished his run came up to me afterwards and said, "Man, that guy has been hittin' everyone in this parking lot up for change - he probably has more money than we do."
"My 5-month old daughter had double brain surgery today and came through with flying colors" I replied.
The man's face went slack and a look of incomprehension spread across it.
"I haven't a care in the world and I am in a giving mood", I summed up for him.
He got it, smiled and said "I get it. I feel ya."
The run was hard but I didn't care. It had been a while since I had been to Mission Beach and when I got to the pier (in the picture above) I remembered exactly how long.
It was this long ago.
At the time, we had been told that Annabelle would not likely survive more than a few hours after birth and that day at Mission Beach, we were thinking that these may be the only family photos we were going to get.
Talk about a poignant moment today . . .
We are so so so so so grateful, thankful, overjoyed by our little champ and today felt like another victorious title bout (to use a boxing term).
Thank you thank you thank you for all your prayers and support. I don't think we would be where we are were it not for them.
(BTW - no stats this time as I left the gizmo in the car in the parking structure two blocks away . . . as if the stats even matter . . .)
We are all settled in our room now. We have a private room with a small TV and DVD player, our own bathroom complete with tub and shower and a little outdoor patio that I believe we share with the neighboring hospital room.
There is a chair that folds out to a bed and the second parent (if applicable) can bunk in a parent's unit down the hall. Of course everyone is friendly and helpful and we are getting wonderful care.
I know what you are thinking . . . . where did that crib come from?? Tim Burton's "You think your childhood was hard" Emporium?
I commented to the nurse when we are getting organized, "I bet this crib is REAL easy to clean . . ." She got the point and shot me an embarrassed look so I knew it was safe to drive-on-in . . . "Because I can't think of another reason why anyone would want a crib like this . . . "
"Yeah, we pressure wash them between patients . . ." She was kidding, of course.
She explained that the hospital was at capacity right now and that she tried to find a different crib but they are all full. She did mention that we were given a private room due to our situation and that some patients did not get private rooms.
We said "The crib looks great!"
We met with the surgeon who explained the results.
When the catheter was inserted two days after Annabelle was born, her head was obviously 5 months smaller than it is today. As Annie's head grew, the distance between the reservoir and the hole where the catheter enters her head actually expanded. Consequently, the reservoir pulled the catheter out of Annabelle's head ever so slightly and the perforated portion of the catheter was repositioned nearer the actual brain matter than the ventricles. This is what led to the catheter becoming clogged.
They pulled out the clogged catheter and inserted a new one.
Every thing else concerning the shunt system looked "perfect" according to the Doc.
The docs also said that the 3-V procedure went perfectly as well.
Annabelle is still in recovery and only one of us can see her at a time. The nurse said Annie woke up, was moving her arms and watching her. the nurse also said she thought Annie might be in some pain so she gave her the smallest dose of pain killer through her IV and Annabelle fell back asleep. She was sleeping when I went in to see her.
The incision where the shunt revision occurred looks bigger than I had anticipated (it looked every bit as big as the first time). The incision on the top of her head for the 3-V is very small - more like a puncture than a cut.
Once they assign us a room, Annabelle will be moved and the wife and I will spend the day and night here at the hospital.
The docs plan on checking in tomorrow to discharge her and then we come back to his office on Monday to give everything a once-over.
It is a big relief to have this basically past us and the anticipation was of course much harder than the actual event (goodness, it's only 10:30am and we are done).
I asked how they would determine whether the shunt could be removed and he said that there really was no way to tell. Usually, after a 3-V, they will leave the shunt in permanently. Shunts almost never last past 15 years so if we go that long without a revision, the docs will consider whether the shunt is even working and if they might be able to remove it.
The good news is that we now have two different ways for excess fluid to drain and so we are in much better shape in that regard.
Thank you for your prayers this morning - more updates and photos to follow . . .
We had to stop before entering the parking lot to let a woman pushing a stroller cross the darkened street. When you see someone heading into the hospital late at night or early in the morning a certain weighty urgency seems to attend them. And then I realized, that weighty urgency is laying on us this morning as well . . . like a fog round about us.
The usual entrance was closed and we entered into the adjacent building as instructed. It seemed like half the lights were off inside and there was a harried mother standing alone at the bank of elevators holding an infant. When the elevator arrived, we got in but she stayed there in the lobby waiting for something else.
We exited into a semi-darkened 3rd floor - all but deserted and found the suite where we were told to check in.
The place was a bee-hive of activity. I counted at least 8 families with more cuing up behind us. The room was stocked with toys and photos and a radio was playing in the corner. The staff was happy and cheerful and smiling - even half the children and parents seemed to be smiling. Clearly, we were in a "Children's Hospital".
It came our turn to sit at one of the desks and a staffer who truly seemed to enjoy this job that she was very good at began guiding us through the paperwork. "Sign here dad . . . date there dad . . . do we have your consent to . . . . sign here if it is alright for us to . . . ." and on it went.
"Your co-pay is two-fifty"
"Two . . . .two . . . wha? huh? Did you say two hundred and fifty? Dollars!?"
I looked up at the wife and could hear the faint clanging of my internal panic bell going off . . .
"Well that's more than the $15 I was expecting to pay . . . ."
She smiled back . . . "Its because it's surgery . . . "
I forked over the $$ and we signed some more paperwork . . .
"Do you want a stuffed animal for the baby?"
Well. There's only one answer to that question . . . . "Sure . . ."
She handed us this. It came in a box with all the tags still attached . . .
I looked at the wife in bewilderment and she immediately replied . . . . "That's a $250 Horton you got there . . ."
The staffer printed out an extra hospital bracelet for Horton and we were off to the surgical suites.
They took little Annie's vitals and drew a little blood. More medical history questions . . . . They gave us a hospital gown to put her in . . . would you believe that even the infant gowns breeze open in the back??? I guess it's never too early to let the humiliation begin . . .
The anesthesiologist and neurosurgeon came in and we all reviewed the game plan.
Then it was time to hand the wee one to the nurse.
Last night the wife made a very good point . . . when Annabelle was born, we never had to hand her to them. In fact, it was they handing Annabelle to us when they were ready to. This time was the first time that we were walking in and handing her to them.
As the nurse turned and disappeared through the door the wife and I looked at each other. There was one beat and the wife came apart. We gathered ourselves together and walked downstairs to the cafeteria.
Which is where we are at this moment.
Through it all this morning Annabelle was once again the super-trooper she has always been. Smiling at every one she met - barely fussing when we couldn't feed her at the proper time and even smiling at the O.R. nurse when we handed her off.
She really is something.
Keep us in your prayers - the surgery should be complete by 9:30am or so.
We will update as soon as we are able . . .
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
I know I will be wearing mine tomorrow.
Here is our schedule such as it is so far . . . .
Tonight - PACK!
O'dark:30 - run
Just before dawn - go to office
9:30 - drop off dawg at TKA on way home (don't forget to call and ask if okay . . .)
10:30 - leave for hospital
11am - pre-op lab tests
Noon - surgery registration
1:30 - surgery
The hospital allows parents to visit 24/7 so it sounds like the wife and I will be spending the night . . . .
I will have a laptop with me but no guaranteeing how much time I will have to use it. I imagine I will be leaning pretty heavily on the twitters for the next 48 hours (margin at right).
Updates to follow.
Thank you for your prayers.
It was going to be a logistical challenge today.
First off, it was a "run" day and I really didn't want to make today the first day that I skipped a run. Then we needed to get to the hospital by 7:45am or so to make sure we got in and out of the club foot clinic pronto. Then get to the neurosurgeon by 9:30 and then get me to the office ASAP after that.
I got up at 3am, was running by 3:30 and back by 4:45. We all went through our normal routines and were out the door just before 7am. I dropped the wife and child off at the CF clinic and then drove the two blocks to the neurologist's parking lot so we would not have to unload-load-unload-load and pay two parking fees on top of it all. I walked to the clinic and caught up with the girls just as they were being ushered in at 7:45am.
The doc came in, gave Annabelle the once over and pronounced no new casts until after surgery on March 24th - provided her little feet don't start regressing to their starting points . . .
Since there were no casts to take off or put on, we sat and had a nice chat with the doctor about "what-ifs" and "whadd-ya thinks". The great thing about doctor Wallace is he reserves his absolutes for the past tense; "What happened is . . . " the future tense with him is always possibilities leaving room for miracles . . . .
We made our next Club Foot appointment for February 17th - one whole month away. It was sort of weird to pass by the nurse in the hall and tell her we would not be back for a whole month - this after 10 straight weeks of visits (I think). There was that weird urge-to-hug moment and then we all realized this was a professional situation and we wished each other well. Nice folks - I won't miss going back there every week though . . .
We were out of the CF clinic just before 9am and made the two-block "hike" to the neurologist's office. I was hoping to get in early but the doctor was in surgery and didn't get there until our scheduled time of 9:30am. Come to find out that the office that performed the Cat Scan on Annie last Friday is not on the same network as the neurologist's office and they could not pull up the scans . . .
I offered to walk three buildings down, pick up the scans and bring them back - they took me up on the offer . . . soooo, I heel-toed it to the imaging center where the receptionist recognized Annabelle's name and gushed about how cute she was . . . "Oh, and here are the x-rays and Cat Scan . . ."
Back to the neurologist . . . .
Now-a-days it seems like the thing for docs to have is a big ol' jumbo tron for a computer monitor. I mean BIG - almost 6 feet wide.
The doc slapped the disks in and the images filled the left wall of his office.
I actually got the doc to give me the image disks once he had uploaded them to his computer so here are a few of interest:
Past the rib cage . . .
And into the abdomen where they leave plenty of extra to accommodate Annabelle's growth over the next 3-5 years . . .
As we viewed the images, the doc gave us the rundown and we followed up with questions . . . here is what we found out . . .
The pressure / fluid situation is not nearly as "bad" today as it was the day Annabelle was born. We are in better shape today, even with a shunt malfunction than were were 5 months ago . . . .
The shunt revision requires an incision that is so small they don't even use stitches to close it up. The doc actually said they glue it shut! So that was a relief. The whole thing is pretty straight-forward, small cut, pull the old tube out, put the new tube in and connect it to the reservoir.
It should only require a one night stay and at least one parent is welcome to sleep in the room with her.
In fact, the surgery was is so minor (yeah - minor brain surgery), that we can continue with therapy appointments the next week . . .
The more interesting thing is that he felt Annabelle was a candidate for a "Third Ventriculostomy".
Now, keep in mind, I am no brain surgeon . . . but here is what I understand in layman's terms.
You have more than one set of ventricles producing cerebral-spinal fluid in your brain. There are the two big ones (we have talked about before) but then those two drain into successively smaller ventricles . . . sometimes the canal between the large ventricles and the smaller ventricles gets blocked - which leads to fluid build up that needs to be drained with a shunt.
This is a Cat Scan image. The white line on the lower-right is the shunt catheter entering the left ventricle. Notice that the left ventricle where the catheter enters is much larger than the right (I know, the right and left are backwards in this picture). This is somewhat unusual for a couple of reasons: 1) The ventricles should have an even pressure and size. 2) If they were uneven, you would expect the one with the catheter to be the smaller of the two.
Here is another Cat Scan image showing the disparity between the two ventricles (the white line should be going straight down the middle . . .
When the procedure is successful . . . . . . wait for it . . . . . .
SHUNTS ARE NO LONGER NECESSARY
It is a relatively low-risk procedure with a big payoff if successful. The doc warned us that the success rate is only about 22% but after looking at the images together, we all agreed that it was worth a shot.
Here are four websites regarding the procedure that I found helpful (was going to make them into fancy little hyperlinks but, believe me, that won't make them any easier to understand . . .)
There are pros and cons to the 3-V procedure (mostly related to age) but after weighing it all out, (especially since we have one of the best pediatric neurosurgeons in the country at one of the best pediatric hospitals) I really think it is the way to go.