Real men do cry….

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I just finished reading a couple of stories in the press about autism. One was a commentary by Jenny McCarthy about her son’s recovery (she stresses not cured) from autism. This ties into the vaccine link controversy. The other story was about a single mom who used a sperm donor to have a child. Her child was diagnosed as autistic. Supposedly, she ended up contacting several others who had children using sperm from the same donor. Of six children among them, three had been diagnosed with autism and another was showing symptoms of it. The story talked about getting that sort of diagnosis on your child, of how your world changes, how the child you have and the future you dream of for them suddenly changes, how you go through the grieving process. As a father, I can’t help but hurt when I read stories like these, see the Amber alerts being broadcast, read of a child abduction, and a lot of other things where children suffer. I have an amazing five year old daughter who probably has done more to make me a real man than anything else in my life. She is one of my stories. We all have our own.

She was not ours through your “typical” path. My wife and I spent a number of years trying to start a family the “traditional” way. We did not succeed. I learned far more than I ever expected to learn about endometriosis. My wife had a severe problem with that. Usually, when you want to get pregnant and it just doesn’t happen, doctors put the wife on Clomed. It basically turbocharges her ovaries. You get a bunch of eggs each month. That’s supposed to improve the odds. It didn’t. We both learned to be unusually skeptical of those home pregnancy tests. While I never totalled it up, I know we spent a small fortune on home pregancy tests and those ovulation prediction tests too. It’s wierd going into a store and clearing them out of their stock of these products.

It is amazing how something like this creeps into every nook and cranny of your life. It almost takes over and takes on a life of its own. I don’t care how they design these home tests or word the directions, you still find yourself debating, is there a line there?, is it positive?, is it visible enough? We had more than one occasion where we concluded it was. As much as we wanted it to be, we didn’t Clinton it and  push the limits on how you define a positive result. My wife is a registered nurse so our knowledge level of matters medical is better that most folks. I’ve picked up enough over the years that when I raise a concern with a doctor, I can present a real challenge to their skill and knowledge. We’d go to the doctor and get their blood test only to have it come back negative. The difference each time was actually time. Several days would have passed since the home test. With the level of accuracy of the home tests these days, you’re don’t expect to be skeptical and to doubt its accuracy. Boy do you learn  a lot about reproduction that they never covered back in that high school health class! Seems women actually get pregnant a lot more often than they realize. Yea, that sounds crazy but it turns out to be true. Women don’t make it past that first month a lot more than they know. For us, the low point came in the craziest of places. My parents had organized a “family cruise”. We all took a cruise ship through Alaska’s inland passage. The timing worked out  where my wife and I were hoofing on foot through downtown Juneau to get to a drug store and get a pregnancy test. After what was then about four to five years of trying, we had learned to be very skeptical but when your wife says with complete certainty that not only is the test positive, she knows her body and she knows she is pregnant, you really do want to believe her. Still, by that point in time, you can’t shake the feeling of waiting for the other shoe to drop. As much as I wanted to believe that the line we both really did see really did mean she was pregnant, I wasn’t ready to give in completely and really believe and yet it was so hard NOT to. You so want the dream to be real. With all we had gone through before that and as skeptical and doubtful as we were at that point, we had enough that told us our doubts were wrong and unfounded that, on the last day of the cruise as my extended family gathered for our last meal on board, we did something two very skeptical adults hadn’t done several times before, we shared our news. We got in contact with my wife’s family and shared the news with them too. Then we went home, went to the doctor and had yet another blood test.

The shoe dropped.

While my wife buried herself in the bedroom, I dealt with the task of contacting all the different family members and telling them, oops, nevermind. Yes, you mourn much as you do with the death of any family member and yet more so for you are mourning not just a death in the family, you are mourning the death of a child, a life unlived and a dream unfulfilled. You experience the full grieving process with nothing held back.

From there we went to an endocrinologist -a fertility doctor. They test you every which way you can be tested. You discuss things you’d never imagine discussing – hormones, timings, chemical reactions, details of biology most doctors don’t even know, just about everything this side of how to read chicken bones tossed into a fire pit. Then you start the shots, the drugs, the hormones. While I can’t draw blood, giving injections are almost an afterthought for me. There’s a skill I never expected. Fertility doctors prepare you for failure, mainly because your odds don’t become unbeatable even with all they do. They’re better but it’s not a certainty. We got to try it a second time. On the morning of September 11, 2002, as the world stopped for that awful first anniversary, the doctor implanted three embryoes in my wife’s uterus. A few weeks later, we got something we hadn’t had in almost seven years – a positive blood test. You think you’d scream and shout, jump for joy and generally act the fool. You don’t. You simply sit and feel a lot lighter. You feel a breeze come through and the mustiness clears out.  Things seem brighter, better but there’s still one thing you can’t fully shake – the feeling that somewhere out there, there’s a shoe lurking. As the days and weeks pass, it fades. You do finally completely forget about that shoe. I did – the day I held my newborn daughter in my arms.

It’s the craziest thing but I swear it’s like that whole seven years somehow became a part of by DNA and became a part of my daughter. She hugs right and left. Not just us, not just family but her friends, her teachers – she hugs where most folks say hello. You’d swear she’s hugging not just for herself but her lost brothers and sisters.

My daughter taught me one very big lesson even before she was born. She taught me to cry. Even now, still to this day, I see the children with no hair, I see the Amber alerts on the freeways, I see the parents on the news – I see the eyes, I see that look, I see behind it as I know it all too well…..and I shed a tear. I am not just a man, I am human. I know. I am a father.

“Hell hath no fury…..”

Well, I do believe that we may be seeing the beginnings of the self-destruction of the Democratic Party, at least in 2008. The brouhaha over the delegates from Michigan and Florida is definitely heating up. In the asinine world of politics, WE has nothing to do with it. It’s ALL about ME ME ME ME (read POWER!!!). Ignoring completely any possibility that either of the two Democratic candidates has a sane position on an issue, any issue, we could well be seeing the beginnings of the end. It appears that the Democrats in Florida have given up on trying to have another primary – one that counts that is. The Florida Congressional delegation has been opposed to any kind of mulligan or do-over. It also seems that the most vocal opponent of giving the millions of Florida Democrats a voice in their party’s choice of a candidate is a vehement supporter of the lady from New York. To the extent that the catfight for their party’s nomination goes down to the convention, so goes the increasing chances of their party’s doom. The man from Illinois has, for better or worse, gotten many of us off our lazy hineys and involved in the madness to some degree. These folks are comparatively new to the real nature of this madness. The race is going down to the wire and the lady from New York is using every favor owed, every tactic in the book, milking the party establishment for all it’s worth in her fight to win. If it comes down to the convention and she wins, hordes will be screaming foul! It’s not, that’s politics as usual. The anger and animosity that will direct towards the Democratic Party will not fade quickly. It could be the biggest threat to the party establishment, if not the party itself, in decades.

 Meanwhile, the opposition sits and, no doubt, tries to maintain a calmness in the midst of the coming of the political mother lode. Fact is, the glee is bursting at the seams fighting to get out. The man from Illinois hasn’t learned the lesson that Bill has – you DO NOT make the BOSS angry.

 Now I’ll admittedly be choosing the opposition come November but not because of anything to do with their actual candidate. They could probably offer up a serial killer and still get my vote. As an AMERICAN, the best decision I can make is the one that will ensure the greatest amount of gridlock in Washington. The Democrats have more than enough control of Congress. Under no circumstances can we allow a Democrat in the White House. They, just as the Republicans would if the situation was reversed, would do far too much damage to this country. The less that gets done in Washington, the better. Only when the need for action is so blatantly obvious that even the crooks, cons and scammers in Washington can’t deny it can they be allowed to actually act. Voting for President of the United States has NOTHING to do with the issues, the candidates or the facts. It’s pure, simple, unadulterated damage control.

Okay, that takes care of the past.

Well, I’ve finished “moving” posts in my old blog over on Blogger.com here. Some had links to stuff that’s gone so no point including them. Didn’t see an easy, fast way to move comments so those are gone. No big deal I figure. Google moved to requiring a Google account and, as innoculous as that seems now, I gotta funny feeling that’s going in the same direction as the Dark Lord’s Passport crap. That was enough for me so now my blog’s here. Having gone to this effort, I should get back to posting to it at least. Clearly, while past post cover the spectrum, the aspects of stupidity and idiots are dominant motivators to me posting. Comes naturally with being cantakerous I guess. I do need to finish customizing the theme here (how the blog looks) but stay tuned.

I WANT MY NOTA VOTE!!

Thinking about my prior post reminded me of something I heard of a long time ago – the NOTA choice on the ballot. NOTA is for NONE OF THE ABOVE. How can anyone not absolutely love the concept??? Every political office on the election ballot would have a place to vote for NOTA! Now we’d have to exclude NOTA votes from determining which criminal, uh, politician wins but just imagine the possibilities. For someone running unopposed, if 100,000 votes are cast and 95,000 of the votes for your office are NOTA votes, you look a bit silly. It could be like tossing a bloody carcass into the sea. The sharks come circling fast! Even better, in a political contest that is opposed, imagine being the loser and not just coming in second, but coming in third to the NOTA votes! The ultimate would be for the “winner” to come in second to the NOTA votes! Who knows, maybe it could be the first of the many steps it would take to get rid of the politicians and start getting AMERICANS back in government. Yea, I know, hell will freeze over first. But then again, it may not freeze over but who says we can’t air-condition the place???

(Original post on 4-NOV-2006 10:41 PM)

Time to RAIL

Yes folks. In the US, this coming Tuesday is “election day”. It’s the culmination of intense slander, character assassination, and uncountable other types of mud slinging. It takes a VERY special type of “alleged human being” to perform on such low levels. They are called “politicians”. They come in all types and varieties. Usually, if you want to engage in the typical activities of a politician, a normal human being has to engage in behavior that inevitably leads to a prison term. For politicians, such behavior is the norm. I mean, after all, we’ve had our sexual predator in the White House. We have Congressman resigning and some even going to jail. These are the inept ones. Good politicians don’t get caught.

Anyway, Tuesday is our chance to vote for which slimeballs we want running our government. Thus, the title – Time to RAIL or Time to Retire An Incumbent Legislator. After all, the only truly good politician is an unemployed one! So lets all go to the polls on Tuesday and do our part! Even those “unopposed” can lose. Write in a vote for Mickey Mouse, Ted Bundy, Jimmy Hoffa, or even the Tooth Fairy and RETIRE AN INCUMBENT LEGISLATOR! Just imagine the election returns on TV :-)

(Original post on 4-NOV-2006 10:24 PM)

The Queen’s English, American English and then there’s Southern! – Part 2

 Okay, follow the link to get the background behind this line of thought.

Here’s another handy one. The Southern version is “pulling a Dolly Parton”. It basically can be used in place of any English that is saying “trying to saydoactetc. too much into too little”. Think of it in terms of how Dolly Parton herself describes it – “trying to put ten pounds of potatoes into a five pound sack”. You’ll understand that if you have the slightest inkling of who Dolly Parton is.

(Original post on 5-OCT-2006 11:42 AM)

The latest Maalox moment

You know you’re old when you think of the past in terms of decades and not years.

(Original post on 18-SEP-2006 2:52 PM)

Clearing brush with a thermonuclear device

Okay, the title’s weird but what do you expect from me? A while back, I had one of those experiences where intelligence seems to have been considered irrelevant. I got a late night request from my two “bosses” to pick them up a baked potato from one of the local fast food chains (Uh, how many do you know that sell potatoes – whole that is). Okay, so I use their very heavily advertised late night drive thru window (they use raccoons in the ads). I get to the first stop and place my order. No problems there. The voice from the speaker was intelligible and they even had a screen that showed my order.

Proceed to window number one! They take my money.

Proceed to window number two.

Cue the Keystone Cops here! I am supposed to get the food I ordered here. Do I? Of course not! Would I be writing this otherwise? Instead, I am told that they only have one baked potato left. They can prepare the other two (foolish me thought I’d get one too) but I’ll need to wait 10 minutes for that. Would I like to change my order? Okay, I’m at the last window; there’s no menu; they already have my money so they would have to figure out how to deal with the difference. This at the kind of business that uses pictures on the cash register so they don’t have to require that their employees have a functioning brain. I may be dumb but I ain’t stupid. I’ll wait the 10 minutes so I pull forward. The 10 minutes pass and no food — of course. That was a given. Another ten minutes pass with no food so now I back up the the last window and ask for the food I was promised 20 minutes earlier that I’d get in 10 minutes. “Oh it will be ready in just a minute!” Okay, cut to the chase. I end up getting my food and a receipt with a note on it signed by the manager for three free baked potatoes on my next visit. My, my, presumptuous, aren’t they. No, they didn’t offer to refund my money and give me this order for free. That would require thinking. Besides, I’m not one to force my business on anyone that doesn’t want it.

Okay, so what’s new? What’s the deal here? I mean, isn’t this the normal experience these days?
This is where my craziness shows itself. They have a computerized order entry system. Punch the pictures and the order gets placed and they’re told how much money to get. (Have some fun sometime and give them extra change with the money so that you get back an “even” amount of change – like a quarter. That will get some entertaining reactions. I still recall the poor guy who had goofed punching in the amount of money I gave him and, unable to figure out the correct change, just rounded my order to the nearest dollar – DOWN) Like all of these places, they have some items on their menu that they don’t prepare until ordered and others that are prepared ahead of time. Foolish me thinks that they could easily track their “inventory” of pre-prepared items. That would let their computer system tell them when they need to fix more or throw away items that are too old to sell now. Even less thinking would be required of the humans “behind the counter”. (Yea, I’m thinking logically and we all know logic is the LAST thing used in today’s business world.) That would let them tell me when I’m placing my order that they are out and I’d have to wait or order something else. Now there’s a radical idea!

Okay, so I get home and continue this fantasy of mine. Do they have a web site? Of course! Ah, but do they have any sort of feedback page that I can use? There I go trying to think logically again! SIGH!!! Of course not. I am SUPPOSED to WAIT until “normal business hours” and call their toll free number!! Big surprise. I don’t bother. Neither do I bother ordering food there anymore either.

(Original post on 13-SEP-2006 4:47 PM)

That thin line between just about everything

We as a society consider ourselves civilized. We see ourselves as educated, intelligent, sane. We point to the past and see barbarism and superstition. Yet the Romans, as just one example, considered themselves civilized and those that were not part of the empire were the barbarians. The fact that their society was built on slavery and things like the gladitorial games were such big part of their society didn’t seem to matter. That’s how they defined civilized. We define it a bit differently today but yet we have things like the Holocaust, the killing fields of Cambodia, Rwanda, and numerous other example of genocide just in the last 200 years. We had slavery still part of our society just 150 years ago. Talk to folks in law enforcement and you’ll find it still exists in our society today. We have our serial killers and criminals. Many things about someone that we would see and identify as madness a few hundred years ago we see today as physical illnesses that we can treat to some degree or maybe even cure. The Nazis, Khmer Rouge, Hutus, etc. never saw what they were doing as wrong. Neither did the Romans, the population of Salem, the Inquisition and so on. It’s said that the victors write history. Do they also define what is civilized? Have you ever been truly scared? Enough to where you look back on that time and the thoughts that you had and seriously considered then and wonder if you were going crazy? Just how wide or thin is the border between civilized and barbaric, sane and mad, intelligent and superstitious? Just how civilized are we today?

(Original post on 25-MAY-2006 4:50 PM)

Cosmological considerations by a crumbling corpus

 Cute alliterations aside, I ain’t smoking anything. I just seem to find a wide variety of things rather interesting. I’ve read some of Hawking’s books, need to get around to doing some reading on string theory, and am quite happy to devour the babblings presented on the testosterone channels. Interesting that black holes “leak” – read up on Hawking radiation (believe that’s the right name) – when the common understanding is that nothing can escape a black hole. The devil is always in the details. Another one I like is that the universe is “lumpy”. Apparently, the expectation is that after the “big bang”, the distribution of the background radiation remaining would be fairly even……..but it’s not. There’s thoughts that the universe is not “eternal”, even after the “big bang” created it, that the universe is in fact cyclical – it’s born, dies, is reborn, etc. There’s even an alternative to the big bang – that the universe is actually FIVE-dimensional – the three we know well plus time (the fourth) and another beyond that. This five-demensional universe has some number of “membranes” and what we consider to be “our” universe is the result of the collision of two of these membranes. In the area of galactic formation, the current rage apparently is something called co-evolution. A galaxy and the super massive black hole develop together.

At this point, five-demensional universes are beyond me. I still like the big bang idea myself. It doesn’t seem unusual that the universe would be lumpy. It seems unrealistic to think that the “presence” of the after-effects of the big bang itself would be perfectly uniformly distributed. The whole idea behind the explosions used to implode a building is to NOT let them be uniform, that the energy from a given blast to be directed at a target – say a building pillar. Repeat that with multiple blast and you can control the way the building collapses. So the energy and matter created/resulting from the big bang has clumps as the universe expands. A bigger clump attract a smaller clump and collides forming an even bigger clump. A whole bunch of clumps are the beginnings of a galaxy (galaxies aren’t evenly distributed either). The clumps at the point where the most clumps are eventually is what becomes the core of the galaxy and becomes massive enough that its gravity reaches a point that it becomes so strong that it can capture anything near it, even light – we have a black hole. Remember the time scale we’re talking here. The billions of years that Earth has existed are less than a blink of an eye to that. If the mass of a star or planet create a dimple in the space time continuum, galaxies and clusters of galaxies do too. Given enough time, these clumps will merger with each other bit by bit. There’s a number of examples of galaxies that have collided or are going to. These super massive black holes will merge too. (Imagine how nasty that would have to be keeping in mind that nebulas are the result of a star going nova. Couldn’t we eventually end up with all the matter an energy of the universe being one singularly massive black hole? One that can’t “keep it all together” because it’s “eaten until it busts”. You’ve just had another big bang. When you have eternity, you have one bang after another.

It’s been said that cosmologists are proving the existence of God. Odd thought here, but what if this cycle of big bang sucked backed into a SMBH that explodes in another big bang is actually “God’s heartbeat”????

(Original post on 25-May-2006 3:49 PM)