Tuesday, February 28, 2006

here's the plan

I'm home -- whoo-hoo!

I saw my endocrinologist exactly on time today, a minor miracle I'm sure all would agree. That appointment ended early enough that I was able to switch to an earlier flight out, so I got to eat dinner with the family. I am very happy to be home. I did three things in Houston: 1) read [Eldest; better than Eragon, but I'll have more to say about that later] 2) knit and 3) watch television. I should also mention that I snacked nearly constantly during most of those activities. Next time I'll be more careful about how much snacking supplies I bring.

Today's visit was good. This doctor seems young enough to be my kid, but I know he's not -- more like a little brother. At any rate, he has a very pleasant and open demeanor and we went through all my questions zip-zip-zip.

So I'm going back in six months, and when I do, I'll undergo the Thyrogen regimen and have a nuclear scan and we'll see what's left, if anything. The thyroglobulin results weren't back yet, but the doctor was unconcered about that since my suppressed Tg has never been a very good indicator of what's going on. I have had very low Tg even while having a significant amount of cancer, so I'm glad the doctor isn't relying on that number.

He did admit that the "extracapsular invasion" that was all over my last pathology report did indicate a higher risk of residual/recurrent disease. (I thought so.) But the nodes, while enlarged, didn't show any "rounding" (characteristic of malignancy) or calcification or increased vascularization, so there was no need to biopsy them for now.

Worst things: I won't know my schedule until about a month before I go, they're not able to schedule out too far with this stuff for some reason. Second worst thing: I have to go back on the low iodine diet for 2 weeks before I get there. Third worst thing: I'll be there at least 4 days: Saturday through Tuesday, since I get injected 2 days, take the RAI tracer dose the next day, and the next day I get scanned. They'll also be doing more bloodwork and an u/s and all that stuff. Whee!

OK, that list of "worst things" is not at all accurate in terms of importance or actual worst-ness of the item. For example, the list doesn't include having to do a nuclear scan, which is fairly excruciating. While I am apparently capable of lying quite still in a very tightly enclosed space for an hour and half, I can honestly say I do not enjoy it.

One upside: I will probably not ever have an RAI treatment again. This doc's experience (like mine) has shown that the RAI is just not effective at cleaning out nodes. It's not that the RAI was so bad, but I'd just as soon not have to do it again. I'm still dealing with salivary gland issues from the last two times I got nuked.

Overall it was a pretty good trip. I heard the exclamation, You look great! so many times I actually started to believe it. The thing is, I do look fine especially when I wear just a little makeup to coverup my dark under-eye circles. On the shuttle ride to the hotel, I was riding next to an u/s technician who asked "What do you do at the medical center?" It took me about three tries to get her to understand that I am a patient, not that I do patient relations or something like that. She didn't believe it. Similar things happened a few times everyday, Oh, you're a patient!

I appreciate very much that I don't look like a patient. It helps a lot.

March column at LCL

The entire encyclopedic Low Carb Sacher Torte column (all 2,000 words) is now available online at LowCarbLuxury.com. That means there's no excuse for anyone not to try it. This is as step-by-step as it gets without me actually coming into your kitchen and baking it for you.

It is so yummy. I hope someone is inspired to try it.

Monday, February 27, 2006

halfway there

I'm already finished with my appointments for today. Amazingly, my surgeon was nearly on time for my appointment -- it was scheduled for 10:45 and he walked into the room at 11:30. Last October, the wait was literally hours long.

So: bloodwork looks good, but thyroglobulin (Tg) results were still pending. My chest x-ray was still pending also. My ultrasound identified a couple of nodes "of interest" but the radiologist declined to biopsy them now. This u/s is considered my post-operative baseline, and I'll come back in 6 months and do this whole routine again, and they'll decide at that point whether or not to biopsy those nodes and if I'll need further treatment.

I'm almost relaxed. If the Tg comes back very low, I will be able to relax for real. I am happy I didn't have a needle stuck in my neck, but I would be happier if they had biopsied those nodes and found no cancer. I know that negative biopsies are not necessarily definitive, so I can live with "come back in 6 months."

Tomorrow's appointment will be interesting. I find myself strangely disarmed by these doctors. I have a million questions on the way in, and then they look at me and say something that makes me realize that asking my million questions is not going to be helpful. So I don't ask. Then later I wish I had asked! How annoying. Today, I was so relieved about the u/s that I didn't ask the surgeon why no one in his practice answered my email about the change to my u/s schedule. I think I'll fill out a patient comment card on that issue... it's the only real problem I've had dealing with these people, and as issues go, it's pretty trivial.

So for my next appointment I will make a list of questions that I want covered, and hopefully I will stick with them while I'm in there. And then I can go home and not think about this stuff for 6 months or so.

Saturday, February 25, 2006


I'm in such denial, I keep "forgetting" I'm going to Houston on Sunday.

Today's reminder: My brother is visiting us with his son. They're leaving late Monday. I'm flying out Sunday afternoon. My brother read in the paper this morning that the 202 will be closed this weekend, from Scottsdale Rd to Priest Dr, which means you can't take the 202 to the airport.

Me: Well, they'll be finished with that by the time you're leaving on Monday.

Brother: Yes, I know, but you'll have to go a different way when you leave on Sunday.

Me: Leaving Sunday? Wha...? Oh, yeah.

Friday, February 24, 2006

about this ports business

Nearly everyone, apparently, is freaking about the deal on the table which will give Dubai Ports International managerial control of six US ports.

They're all idiots.

The overwhelming majority of people in the US know nothing about shipping. If you ask any random person how grain is moved, or how auto parts or textiles get here from, say, China, they'll respond, "Planes?" They know that oil gets moved by tankers, but that's about it. They don't know anything about containerships or dry bulk carriers, or even that there are different sizes of tankers. They don't know that although moving huge quantities of stuff is expensive and you would therefore think it's also lucrative, it's still pretty easy to take a beating in shipping if you make a few bad decisions.

The main thing they don't know is this: the US is out of the shipping business, and has been for decades. We don't build commercial vessels, we don't service them, we don't scrap them. We have virtually no international commercial fleet. That means nearly every tanker, every dry bulk ship, every containership that comes into a US port is owned and operated, and serviced and loaded, by foreign companies.

I know a little bit about shipping, since I worked for a teeny-tiny company many years ago that wrote decision support software for shipping industry executives. I was mostly a techno-geek but I was also tech support and believe me, walking an executive from a multi-billion dollar shipping company through a botched installation is no picnic. (Although onsite visits were always fun, since they involved going to places like London, and Oslo.)

The point here is: US concerns decided a long time ago that there was no money for them in shipping -- or not enough, anyway, and so they got out. We've been out for a long time. So, to all these folks who are running around saying we shouldn't be letting a foreign country run our ports: foreign countries don't just run our ports, they run every freakin' port in the world.

Also, since its the Brits who are turning over the ports to DPI, what do they think about it? The British have been staunch allies in the war on terror, but the P&O folks seem to feel just dandy about selling out to DPI. Wouldn't you think the British would be concerned about this takeover, if it posed much of a security threat?

I will not defend the Administration's failure to get in front of this story and force a flow of information that could shut up all the hysterics out there. Once again the White House has proved itself to be oddly incompetent politically, whereas in the past it has had some bright & shiny political achievements. But I will defend this deal -- especially since it's not up to us to tell P&O not to sell themselves to DPI, how could we? Neither one is an American company, the US has no regulatory power here. If we don't want DPI overseeing the management of those ports, we better scramble and get some other company to do it.

But I can predict with 100% certainty that whatever company we get will not be American.

As for port security: it may actually improve under DPI. I doubt it could get any worse. Now I'm going back to my knitting.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


That's the plan for now: withdraw for a little while, and see what happens.

Am I off on a spiritual bender, or running away from the battle?

A little of both, I think.

By this time next week all my tests will be done, and I'll have a much better idea of what's going on -- maybe. At least the main trajectory of my short-term future should be resolved. I hope.

Anyway: don't expect much of anything for a while. By way of explanation, I offer this:

There's a Maya Angelou quote posted at DS2's preschool:
You cannot use up creativity. The more you use the more you have.

In spite of the fact that Angelou is a poet, and therefore one would assume a very creative person, she obviously doesn't know what the hell she is talking about. Or maybe it's just me. I have known for seeming ever that I only have so much energy to produce on any given day. When I was working full-time as a programmer, and spent 10 or 12 hour days pounding out code and debugging and writing up specs, I wrote nothing else. Literally. Maybe I did a little knitting or some embroidery while I watched television, but that was it in terms of creativity. At the end of those days, I was wrung out. Not only did I have nothing to say, I had no energy left with which to say anything even if I thought I did have something to say.

The huge gear-shift from full-time geek to part-time geek to full-time mom left me with an imbalance in my creative impulse and available creative outlets, and eventually (through the prodding/encouragement of my catalyst/muse, my sister J), I started writing again. After years of having nothing to say (I've always been a facile, often shallow writer), I found myself having accreted enough experience to have stories worth telling and to form opinions that were worth expressing.

So, what? I am at a difficult place now: stuck. I can see myself going in about 6 different directions, some which will leave me no energy to write, some which see me taking on writing as a real "job." I'm itching to make the decision but everything hinges on what happens next week in Houston.

We watched "House" tonight and I got the creepiest feeling when they were drilling into the patient's skull to get the brain biopsy. I said to DH, At least with all the crap I've been through, they haven't had to drill a hole in my brain, but internally I added: yet while at the same time having this horrifying thought that my cancer could have easily climbed right up the lymph vessels along my carotid artery and be nestled cozily in my brain even now. That is the very worst thing about having cancer in your neck, you know. It's way too close to the brain.

And there it is: I would like very much to be done with this cancer, but I'm sure I'm not. Oh, how lovely it would be, to be wrong!

So for now, a retreat. I don't know where this blog will end up. It's not exactly a waste of time or energy for me -- it has its uses -- but it is definitely a creativity sink, and I need to channel my creativity more effectively if anything is ever going to come of it.

Monday, February 20, 2006

the purge 2006, vol. 1

Company's coming tomorrow, and we've spent the last few days getting the house in order. Not that the company would care in the least, but we do...

I did an enormous sweep of the family room and gathered up all the toys that don't belong down here, and brought them upstairs. Then I went through all the toys upstairs and threw out a lot and set aside even more to be sent off to younger cousins or the schools that will get more use out of them.

In the end we have a slightly neater downstairs and a much neater upstairs and none of it seems to make a bit of difference at the end of the day. Except if we don't do this from time to time, we'll be inundated by all of the stuff that seems to constantly flow into the house.

I'm pushing back against the tide. Even though I took the kids over to Build-A-Bear Workshop today to use up gift cards they received, for once we got rid of more than we acquired.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

warp speed day

Got up at 7 to take DS2 to his swim lesson. I spaced out on the 202 and missed my exit, so we were a few minutes late. Then we stayed afterwards to practice more, so we didn't get home until practically 10.

Then I wrote up my column on the low carb Sacher Torte, which turned into a 2,000 word monster. It's a complicated recipe so I broke down the instructions and made them very detailed. I can't believe I went through that entire process twice last week. We are still enjoying the leftovers.

After lunch: nap! Seriously, I needed one.

Then we all went to Mass. Afterwards, we dropped Mom and the kids off at home and went out the Rattlers' game.

Arena football is fun: goofy, kitschy, sometimes bizarre, yes, but fun. The games move quickly and sometimes the unexpected happens, like a perfect onside kick. The Rattlers won their first game of the season tonight, and it's always nice to watch a winning game. We grabbed barely edible food from the food court before the game, and at half time shared an enormous cookie while we sipped lattes that were mostly milk, but that's OK. I was freezing the entire time, which was a great reason for DH to keep his arm around me.

Now I'm home again, catching up on everything, and ready to go to bed.

Friday, February 17, 2006

my heart's desire

There's a relatively new cashier at Trader Joe's, T. He's gorgeous, but nice, even if he does know he's gorgeous. He's also, I'd say, mid-twenties at the most. (I was going to say, I'm not quite old enough to be his mother, but I have to be honest: I am.) He's a lousy bagger, so I don't usually go to his line, but today his line was the shortest and the store was crowded, so I went to his line.

DD and DS1 were amusing themselves playing "junior charades", not really charades at all, just one pretending to be something and the other trying to guess what it is. It's actually pretty hysterical to watch, because DS1 comes up with stuff like "a statue", but he's moving his eyes back and forth in such a way that lead us to guess things like "a lizard waiting to pounce on a bug."

As I said, the lines were long.

Finally, it's my turn, and T says to me, "Did you find everything your heart desires?" Did I mention he has a very dreamy smile?

I laughed, "Everything my heart desires? Well, let me say... yes, I found everything that my heart desires that's on sale here."

So then he smiled and said, "I'm for sale, too, if you're wondering..." He laughed.

Yikes! I laughed, too, "No, I wasn't wondering. But that's not something I've thought about in a really long time: my heart's desire? It's something I'd have to think about."

Then he commented on the kids' charades game ("It's charades for people who might not be able to spell," I said), and he asked if I needed the milk to be bagged, and we wished each other good weekends.

It's impossible not to be charmed by a young handsome grocery clerk who flirts with you even when you're shepherding two kids.

As to my heart's desire: that's easy, actually. I want to be well. That's the only thing I'd change.

story time!

I had my first stint as substitute storyteller this morning, and it went very well indeed. There was a huge crowd, at least 25 two- to four-year-olds,and several babies. I had them all up and dancing (well, not the infants!), and answering questions about the books, and in general having a very good time.

I even managed the CD player OK, too -- I had burned a disc yesterday with just the songs I needed, but the CD player couldn't play it. I had figured it might not, so I was prepared to do the disc-switching as required. It worked out OK because the kids always need time to transition from story to song, or from song back to story again.

It was a good crowd, by which I mean the children were engaged and the parents kept an eye on the kids, for the most part. When it was over, there were a couple of parents who thought it was OK to leave their 3-year-olds alone in the children's section while they browsed elsewhere in the store: can you say stupid? The kids were OK, but when I realized their moms had wandered off, I asked them, "Where are your moms?" They saw one Mom halfway across the store so we walked up to her, and I refrained from reading her the riot act about leaving her kid unattended. She actually had the nerve to say to her little boy, "You weren't alone, you were with your friend." Of course, the little girl was also three -- big help, huh? Sheesh!

I was a little nervous but didn't need to be. The thing about being in front of little kids like that is you have to be completely honest about it. If you're faking it for them, they'll know it immediately. The other thing, though, is that they have very honest expectations themselves. At that age, they are completely without guile and cynicism, and they'll laugh only if something is funny, not because they think it's stupid. To run a storytime like today's, you have to be able to shed any self-consciousness and just focus on the kids. If you start thinking "I look ridiculous" (whether or not it's true), you'll break the spell, and the kids' attention will start to wander. They're bored by grown-ups' concerns and don't understand the idea of embarrassment. That's one of my favorite things about toddlers and pre-schoolers.

It was great fun and everyone was happy. And now I'm exhausted.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

political microcosm on Lost

I'm not exactly sure how to interpret what happened on tonight's episode of Lost.

(Spoilers aplenty, so click away if you don't want to know)

For everyone's sake, I'm going to ignore the tree frog story line. RIP, tree frog. I like you more than I like James.

The main plotline: Rousseau finds Sayed in the jungle, and leads him to one of her traps which has caught a strange man. Sayed cuts him down, and Rousseau shoots him with an arrow, which goes through his shoulder. Rousseau found Sayed so that he could question the stranger; Rousseau is certain he is an Other.

At the rest of the story plays out, Sayed represents the US Military, Locke represents the Administration, and Jack represents those opposed to the Administration.

Sayed tortures the guy, and by the end of the episode, the stranger hasn't given up any information, but from the look in his eyes it seemed to both DH and I that he was lying to Sayed and he really is an Other.

Jack's furious about the torture -- but this makes no sense! Jack has been trying to raise an army to fight the Others! Or is that all just for show? Jack's main problem in this episode is that he has no control over either Sayed or the situation, so he's a bit whiny. Shut up, Jack.

Locke, much to my surprise, recognizes that they are at war with the Others and what Sayed is doing is necessary.

The episode ends with Sayed professing his utter lack of guilt to Charlie. He knows what he did was right because of what the Others did to them: hung Charlie and left him for dead, kidnapped Claire, the raft incident, kidnapping Walt, doing who-knows-what to Michael... they can never be safe while the Others are out there. Sayed will never forget what they did, but he says that Jack and the rest, they've already forgotten.


Here's what I don't understand about this particular episode. Jack is typically the most sympathetic guy, the clear leader. Here, he's not. He is inexplicably dense about this situation. He pulls a typical Lost act and doesn't ask a single question, he just sets himself against Sayed.

Then there's Locke, who is progressing down the fruitcake path episode by episode, so that when he actually agrees with Sayed, and helps him, I was actually taken aback.

Finally, there's Sayed, who as written is a tremendously appealing character. Sure, he was a torturer with the Iraqi Republican Guard, but that's not all of who he is. This isn't the first time Sayed has tortured someone on the show, but this instance has a lot more resonance: last time, Sawyer was just being his typical assinine self. Given the circumstances of the episode, squeezing the stranger for truthful information is the smart thing to do.

Which is where it all comes apart for me! Mainstream thought says that torture is bad! How can they have the gorgeous Sayed torturing the guy? Does the thrill of the violence outweigh the moral repugnance? We're supposed to like Sayed, our collective hearts broke for him when Shannon was killed. What kind of mind game is this?

And Locke? Who still retains guru status even though he's a bit squirrely -- how could he agree to the torture? And how could Jack disagree with it?

I think Jack's disagreement is the key here: we're supposed to agree with Jack, but he's not the point-of-view character here; this is Sayed's episode.

And it's Sayed who is telling us all never to forget what they've done to us, never to forget that our enemy is ruthless and will do whatever he can to destroy us, and we have to do what we can to protect ourselves. And since this episode showed the Iraqi army using sarin gas, a WMD, in an Iraqi marketplace, we can now rest assured that there really were WMDs in Iraq.

Wait! What's that you're saying? You mean Sayed wasn't talking about 9/11 and the radical Islamists? He was talking about murders and kidnappings and the Others? What's the difference?

Later: I speed-read through 18 pages of commentary on tonight's episode over at TWoP, and out of all that, only one person complained about "propaganda being shoved down our throats." Many people disliked the episode because of the "cheat" aspect of the counter and for other reasons -- some found the flashbacks boring. But on the whole, the political anvils this episode dropped were largely ignored. I'm amazed. Of course now I've posted (page 19), we'll see what everyone has to say. I just don't see how you can not see all the statements the writers were making this week...


I finally juiced all the lemons that had been sitting on the counter since the harvest. I netted 5-and-a-half pints of lemon juice, which has all now been frozen in ice cubes for use when necessary. I also peeled some of them and have a reasonable amount of zest drying on the counter. It smells fanatastic. Every time I walk by, I get a noseful of the most awesome fresh lemon scent. Now I understand how people can become addicted to scented candles and pot pourri.

On Valentine's Day, I made speed cheesecakes for DH. It's basically the cheesecake part of the Cranberry Cheesecake Tart, baked in ramekins. Easy and delicious, especially with cherry topping. (Out of a can, I was very pressed for time!)

Today, I underwent the Sacher Torte production again, this time with much better results. Tomorrow I'll write it up and send it off.

Ah, tomorrow: training for story time! I debut on Friday, and can't figure out if I'm nervous or not. I was never much of a one for performance anxiety or fear of public speaking. I'll be reading to a bunch of little kids, not exactly a tough crowd in the traditional sense where you're left thinking "what did they think of me?" The majority of these kids can barely form a simple declarative sentence. As for the moms and caretakers, they're just happy to have something to do with their kids that's free and fun and vaguely educational. At least I know I was, back when I brought my kids. We'll see how it goes.


How do you tell the difference between "giving it all you've got" and trying too hard?

The stress of the upcoming trip to Houston is weighing me down these days, especially since I checked my schedule a few days ago and saw they'd changed my scheduled ultrasound from the head & neck department to neurology, and added a biopsy. Maybe the original schedule was incorrect. Maybe they always schedule "with biopsy" just in case they need to do one. Of course, they'll only do a biopsy if they think they need to: if they see something like, say, cancer.

To say "this is freaking me out" isn't quite accurate, but it's close. I'm not actively freaking out but there is some walled-off corner of my brain where much freakage is occurring.

Anyway: I'm thinking about what I want to do with this blog, which has some very good stuff on it but a whole lot of not-good stuff, too. I'm thinking about how much time I want to invest in blogging. I'm thinking all sorts of future-activity thoughts these days, regarding vacations and jobs and medical treatments. I can't make any decisions involving other people until I know what's going on, and that's frustrating. I can make decisions that affect only me... but that's hard.

Several weeks of steady writing and carnival submissions (recipes and Grand Rounds) pushed me four levels up in the TTLB Ecosystem. Three weeks off and I've slid right back down to Crustacean. That's OK, I'm very fond of crustaceans. What that experience clarified to me is that the omnibus nature of this blog is not conducive to garnering permanent links. Individual posts are linked often, but those eventually fall off the front page and evaporate. If I want to climb up in the ecosystem, I need to appear on more blogrolls, and the content here is too scattershot for that too happen.

Now I am thinking about whether or not I care about the ecosystem and traffic and all that. I can't say I don't care, but what I'm trying to figure out is why is it that I care? If I'm going to get serious about writing, blogs can be very powerful marketing tools. Right now this blog has about six different purposes and they get in each other's way. But I don't know if I want to maintain separate topical blogs!

At the moment I lack the discipline to do much of anything, but stay tuned for the pending upheaval.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

pathetic (editor's edition)

Evidence of how obsessive an editor I can be:

I just picked up a piece of scrap paper to jot down some notes. I noticed I had already written something on it in one corner -- and misspelled a word ("equivelents").

I corrected it.

Now I can use the rest of the paper for my notes without that misspelling driving me nuts.

in which I respectfully disagree with Mary Shomon

A few days ago, I posted an open letter to Mary Shomon, regarding her prominently linking to Michael Moore's call for medical horror stories, to be featured in his upcoming project (I'm hesitant to call it a documentary, given Moore's history.)

I feel comfortable in posting a good part of Mary's reply here, since she also posted her reply in this thread in her thyroid support forum:
As with most of my advocacy efforts, I trust people to make their own decisions, and do their own research. I just lay out the opportunities, paths, and directions they can pursue.

If someone likes Moore, or even doesn't like him but thinks they have a story to share and he's the one to tell it to, then they might follow the link to participate. If someone doesn't like him, or thinks he's not responsible, then they can choose to bypass it.

I'm not coming down one way or the other, politically or otherwise.
I'm simply passing an opportunity on to readers, and allowing them, in their own wisdom, to make their own decisions.

On the face of it, this is an eminently sensible response. Of course, patients make their own decisions, and it's great that Mary makes us aware of opportunities that we can assess for ourselves.

However, I must respectfully disagree with Mary when she positions herself here as a reporter, somehow twisting the definition of advocate around to mean someone who passes on information for her audience of patients to assess.

Because Mary is emphatically not a reporter; she is an advocate. Yes, part of what she does is pass on important news about thyroid-related research, medications, standards, and publications. But first she distills it to extract the most relevant information, and she repackages it in a way that a typical thyroid patient will find accessible. This is an invaluable service, but please understand that Mary does not deliver "just the facts," she assesses the information for relevancy, accuracy, and impact on the thyroid community. You can see an example in her 2005 Thyroid Cheers and Jeers article, in which she lambastes some players in the thyroid medical community, and lauds others.

Even more on point is Mary's war of words with Dr. Richard Guttler, who runs the for-profit site thyroid.com, and uses outdated methodologies and treatments. It's obvious that Mary finds Guttler's practice reprehensible; under no circumstances would she advise a thyroid patient to seek treatment or advice from him. She makes that abundantly clear in her articles about him. Linking to Michael Moore as she did would be analogous, in my view, to linking to Dr. Guttler's site while reproducing one of his marketing blurbs intended to draw patients in. Of course, she would never do that: in discussing Guttler and his site, she makes sure that her patients have enough information so that they can make an informed decision.

In the past, Mary has always let us know where she stands: among us, the thyroid patient community. That's why I found her response inadequate, and why I maintain that by giving Moore's "call for submissions" a prominent place in her newsletter, she was giving him an implicit endorsement.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Penelope Leach in the news

This Sunday Times (UK) article discusses an upcoming book by respected child development expert Steve Biddulph. Biddulph has done the unimaginable: he changed his mind. Now he advocates that children under 3 years old don't belong in day care settings, but at home with their mothers.

This paragraph in particular caught my eye:
Last year Penelope Leach, an authority on childcare, issued a similar warning after finding that young children looked after by their mothers did better in development tests than those cared for in nurseries, by childminders or relatives.[emphasis added]

Penelope Leach! I've never met her, but I love her. She had tremendous influence on me through her book, Your Baby and Child: From Birth to Age 5*, which I read obsessively when I was pregnant with DS1, and still have around here somewhere.

Leach taught me that the children are not some alien species, but younger humans, with the same feelings and thought processes as adults. Obviously their ability to reason and use logic and do complicated stuff takes years to develop, but the essential wiring, the feelings and the responses to stimuli, are all there pretty much at birth. If you yell at a kid, he'll feel all the same things you feel when you get yelled at, and he has a lot less experience in dealing with those kinds of feelings than you do. That's why yelling at kids is an ineffective way to do anything other than get their attention. Sure, go ahead, yell "Hey!" to get a kid to focus, but after that, dial it down a few notches.

Reading Leach, the one thing that manifests over and over is that children deserve respect. From Leach, I distilled this One Truth:
The only person I can control is myself.
Same goes for everyone else. We each have the power, and through our use of that power, we earn respect. Of course a lot of kids (and adults) don't or won't control themselves, and then they lose respect. But we can cut some slack for the kids who are still learning the ropes, while still giving them boundaries they need to help them figure things out.

Getting back to the issue of daycare versus at-home care for infants and toddlers: before I ever read Penelope Leach, I expected to keep up my software development career when my kids were born. I never expected to stay home with my kids; I didn't think we could afford to give up my high-paying job. I did give up that job, though, so I could move when DH got a great new job opportunity. Reading Leach, I realized that I was very lucky to have a telecommuting job so I could be home with my babies, and I know that it was the best thing for them. It worked out for me serendipitiously, but had it not, I think I would've had a hard time putting my kids in full-time daycare.

I admit I'm curious about these studies they're citing, how reliable they are, how big the data sets were, how they controlled for all the externals. It's a very tricky thing, this testing of very young children. Reflexively, I accept the results, because they confirm what common sense and my own experience would seem to dictate should be true. I have to push past that reflexive response, though, and be honest. Is this valid data? With both Biddulph and Leach behind these findings now, and with my long-standing trust for Leach, I'm willing to bet that it is. It's going to be interesting to see how this new information influences social policy in the UK, and to see how much of a ripple effect it has in other countries as well.

* I recommend Leach's book to everyone who is having their first child. It's essential. It's also a little confusing since its title is so similar to the American Academy of Pediatrician's book, Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5, but it's an entirely different take on the subject. Leach's book tells you how babies and children think, which is something that the pediatricians don't get into. The pediatrician's book is good, too, and gives a lot of details on topics like childhood illnesses, vaccinations, nutrition, and all those issues you're most likely to want to talk to a doctor about. Leach's book is more about living with your child day to day, and encouraging and appreciating his development.

finding the groove again

It surprised me how much that finger injury threw me off track. I stopped writing because my finger hurt and because I was annoyed with myself. I stopped cooking because cooking means a lot of hand washing, and I didn't want to deal with having to change the bandage so often. I couldn't even start any needlework projects, since the bandage was too bulky and annoying to be able to do fine work while wearing it.

I quit wearing the bandage a few days ago, and while the finger tip still looks a little odd, it's mostly healed. Now I'm trying to re-learn 10-finger-typing, and break the 2-week habits I've developed of not using my left index finger to do anything.

Today I was back in the kitchen again: column due Wednesday! I'm working on Sacher Torte, and while the first version was definitely OK, the cake was too much like flourless chocolate cake and not enough like torte. Yes, there is such a thing as too much chocolate. Nevertheless, it will be nice to have something completely decadent to eat in the place of DS2's brownie birthday cake.

I spent a lot of time on this recipe, researching different chocolate combinations and apricot jams, deciding which substitutions I would try, and then putting it all together. I made the jam, then the cake, then my ganache, which still delights me: it's like magic the way it transforms from glop to gloss with the application of gentle heat and a little stirring. The cake itself was less delightful, as I screwed up incorporating the "flour" (you don't think I used wheat flour, do you?) and I had a sticky mess for a while. I was afraid it was unsalvageable but I did manage to wrassle a very short cake out of it. Suffice it to say, I learned my lesson with that experience.

Mom views my projects as if they are a spectator sport, but she'll kibbitz from time to time, too. When I was slicing the cake horizontally to make the layers, she nagged: You should've marked the edges with toothpicks. I told her that never works for me, and then we both laughed because she said it never worked for her, either! But she said, That's what they always tell you to do! Yeah, I know, they do, but I'd just as soon eyeball it and get it done. This was a practice cake anyway, and already something of a flop, so it didn't matter if I mangled it in the slicing. Besides, ganache covers a multitude of cake-assembly sins.

I've been doing a lot of fretting over what kind of job I should get in the fall when all the kids are in school all day. I still haven't made any decisions, and won't until I get back from Houston. But today I felt once again that this is my dream job: researching and developing recipes, working in the kitchen, writing up columns to go with the recipes. I love this job.

Even better, I see a path where I can actually earn money from it, if I can just stay out of the hospital for longer than six months at a time. Now I just need to work up the courage to step onto the path and follow it.

Saturday, February 11, 2006


We'll be busy on Monday, so I'm having the kids write out their school valentines today.

Here is DS2 writing his name on his "friendship day" cards (his school doesn't celebrate V-day as such [here we could use a universally acknowledged symbol for eyes rolling]). Note the pencil:
First two letters...

Last two letters.

Results: very nice!

The first few cards he actually switched the pencil between every letter, but eventually he went to switching only once. Indications are that he is left-handed at least for writing and drawing, but he hasn't really settled on which hand he'll learn to write with yet. Part of me wants him to be left-handed because I am, but I really don't care. Unlike his older brother, DS2 has exceptional fine motor skills with both hands, so whichever he chooses (assuming he does choose), he's unlikely to have any problems with it. The card above is one of the better examples, but his writing now is comparable to DD's, and she's halfway through first grade. It's a typical case of motivation versus indifference.

DS2 is happy he did the cards all himself. I'm just happy they are done, and well aware that by next year, his endearing hand-switching routine will be long gone.

Friday, February 10, 2006

an open letter to Mary Shomon

Note: I emailed this to Mary Shomon today, including a link to this post.

Dear Mary,
I have subscribed to your thyroid newsletter since 2001, and have at various times been an active participant on your Thyroid About.com site. I have been enlightened, encouraged, and entertained by your newsletters over the years, and the information and support in the thyroid forums was invaluable to me in the months following my diagnosis with hypothyroidism. I have purchased your books, and recommended both your books and your websites to others, and have always held you in high esteem for the work you've done as a patient advocate.

Therefore, I was distressed to see the following in today's newsletter:
Send Your Health Care Horror Stories to Michael Moore
Controversial documentary filmmaker Michael Moore is looking for health care horror stories for his next film, and I have no doubt that the thyroid patient community has many to share. From Moore's site: "All we need now is to put a few of you in the movie and let the world see what the greatest country ever in the history of the universe does to its own people, simply because they have the misfortune of getting sick. Because getting sick, unless you are rich, is a crime - a crime for which you must pay, sometimes with your own life...So, if you'd like me to know what you've been through with your insurance company, or what it's been like to have no insurance at all, or how the hospitals and doctors wouldn't treat you (or if they did, how they sent you into poverty trying to pay their crazy bills) ...if you have been abused in any way by this sick, greedy, grubby system and it has caused you or your loved ones great sorrow and pain, let me know. " Find out how to share your story now...
I understand that, as a patient advocate, you want to help patients obtain better medical care. I also understand that, as an Oscar-winning documentary film maker, Michael Moore has the power to reach millions of people and to influence societal change as a result.

But what I do not understand is why you would encourage members of the thyroid community to put themselves and their stories in the hands of a man who has been shown to consistently omit and distort facts, and to manipulate the stories of the people he interviews. I'm not talking about politics. I'm talking about vulnerable people being offered up to be used by a film-maker who has repeatedly shown no respect for the subjects he is covering. Ask the family of Maj. Gregory Stone what they think of Michael Moore's tactics. How do you think that Kayla Rolland's family felt when Moore's Bowling for Columbine portrayed her killer as a sympathetic figure from a troubled family, rather than revealing that the boy had previously been suspended for stabbing another child with a pencil, had fought with Kayla prior to the shooting, and that the gun used to shoot her was obtained from his drug-dealer uncle?

Moore manipulates everyone and everything to advance his agenda. He is a powerful storyteller, but don't be lulled into believing that, if you volunteer yourself up to him, that he will be telling your story. He has demonstrated in every single one of his films that he will mangle the truth or just leave it out altogether if it contradicts the point he is trying to make. His skill in the editing booth is such that he can make you appear to say whatever he wants you to, regardless of what you actually said and the context in which you said it.

I would strongly discourage anyone from working with Michael Moore, but if you choose to do so, at least be aware that the material you provide will not be presented to the public in its original condition. After Moore has massaged and recut it, who knows what you'll end up saying or doing, and who can guess what story Moore will present to frame it?

I don't think it's worth the risk. I am astonished that you featured this item in your newsletter and encouraged thyroid patients to work with him. At the very least, you could've included a caveat as to the risks inherent in such an undertaking. By simply passing on Moore's request, you appear to be endorsing both his methods and his films. I find this level of irresponsibility uncharacteristic of you, and I hope you'll considering amending the feature to add a caution to anyone who chooses to volunteer his story to Moore.

With best regards.

the stuff of days

DS2 lost his first tooth this evening during tooth-brushing, and was very upset about it: That's not supposed to happen until I'm five! (He'll be five on Monday.) His sense of the order of things was affronted, and it took more than a few minutes to get him to calm down, stop screaming, and rinse his mouth out.

Even though I've acquired 21 cumulative years of direct experience with my kids, their rigidity continues to amaze me. People who think children flourish when all restrictions are removed are crazy. My sons would curl up on their beds and do nothing, overwhelmed by the lack of structure. My daughter would dash around in a mad frenzy until she collapsed. None of them would do well. Still, I wish they could lighten up on these ideas, the notion That's the way things should be, all the time, for every situation. They think they know everything, and nuance is mostly out of their conceptual grasp for now, but it will come.

DS1 has started reading the newspaper and that has opened a whole 'nother galaxy of nearly unanswerable questions. Yesterday we had to have the "illegal gambling primer", because the Coyotes' assistant coach has been accused of running a nationwide sports betting network. This morning's incredibly complex, racially sensitive topic was illegal immigration. (God, help me.) Earlier in the week, I had to explain to him that just because the men who flew the planes into the WTC on 9/11 were from Saudi Arabia, not all Saudis are fanatics who hate the US. Ditto, Muslims. He wants to understand current events but it's going to take him a while to come up to speed, and he has no idea how much history he's lacking. (I do have an idea of how much I'm lacking: huge amounts.) So I have to boil everything down and try to hit the high points, but sometimes it's just not possible for me, I don't know enough myself.

Times like these, I pity his teachers. They've told me how he can drive the class to topics they don't usually discuss: We always learn a lot from him.

Then there's the girl. Her newest/oldest thing is taking twice as long as everyone else to eat dinner, even when there's nothing objectionable on her plate. She was like that the day she was born and maintains her bizarre relationship with food. I see it for what it is (a power play), but I wonder if there is some physical thing, some switch in her brain that isn't toggled correctly. Newborns usually like to eat, and she didn't, and you can't ascribe that to a personality issue. We tell her she has to eat. She knows, too: she can dole out nutrition advice as well as I can, and she understands what's she saying. She just doesn't think any of that stuff applies to her. At this point she's a poster child for the Future Eating Disorders of America, which is a very scary prospect.

Speaking of scary: my throat has felt very lumpy the past few days or so, with definite changes in swallowing (it is more difficult). There are a number of possibilities: the nerves have finally grown back there, so I can at last feel what's happening with scar tissues and all; some slight infection is giving me swollen glands (I do have some left); the cancer's back.

Of course I'm terrified that the cancer's back, and I really don't want to go to Houston and have them tell me that. But I have to go, I will go, and maybe it won't be back. I am so, so bad at waiting to find out. I psyche myself out -- I have a bad feeling about this -- and I do have a bad feeling now, but I think it's just because I'm scared. Part of my psyching myself out? Looking over those last labs, my TG was reported as <0.9, which means undetectable, right? Well, <0.9 is nice, but then while leafing through my records from MDA while I was at my rheumatologist on Tuesday, I noticed my pre-op TG, when I was quite riddled with cancer, was 0.8, which is, of course, less than 0.9.

I know I shouldn't do this, shouldn't agonize over details like this, shouldn't let phrases like "extracapsular invasion identified" on the pathology report freak me out. It doesn't help that they write that particular phrase in all caps so it shouts at you: EXTRACAPSULAR INVASION IDENTIFIED. Reading that phrase more than once in the path report kind of makes an impression that maybe they didn't get it all. Oh, sure, they got all the nodes (I think), but when it's out of the nodes, then what? Where does it go?

I didn't have any I-131 to kill off anything remaining, and keeping my TSH suppressed didn't such a great job of keeping the stuff from proliferating between surgeries. This stuff is pernicious: it persisted through two major doses of radiation and managed to grow in the near-total absence of thyroid stimulating hormone.

I argue with myself: why do this, why give all these fears so much attention? I'm hoping that by writing them out I can ignore them for a while. I am very tired but back in that place: I don't want to waste time sleeping.

Back in the rational part of my brain, I know I have statistics on my side, and my prognosis is pretty good owing to the fact I was diagnosed before I hit 45 and I have no distant metastases. But even here I find things to quibble with: but I needed another surgery for the lymph nodes, and there was extensive local invasion. I won't get answers to the questions I'm asking until I'm sitting with my doctors in Houston. This is going to be a very long couple of weeks.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

shades of schadenfreude

Today's test of my inherent humanity: how do I react when I hear something bad has happened to someone else?

Case 1: My former boss at Oracle just got the ax. It only took them about 12 years after acquiring the company to figure out that the guy had long been promoted past his level of competence. It wasn't just that he was incompetent, it was that he actively fostered negligence in his subordinates, and cultivated an environment that was hostile to anyone who tried to do something about it.

Case 2: A woman with whom I have had social dealings, and who has been an unmitigated bitch to me, was literally run over by a bus.

In the first case, I'm psyched. I'm not at all worried about the guy's finances or his family, because he's been drawing a bloated salary + stock options galore for years and years now. If he's in any dire financial predicament now, that's his own stupid fault. I'm happy because now with him gone, there's some hope for the people remaining there to actually have a good work environment, something many of them have probably never experienced. It's a good thing, even though the guy and his family will suffer because of it. I'm reminded about that old saw about the wheels of justice grindingly slowly, but fine -- it took a while, but the guy is finally being called to be responsible for the mess he created.

In the second case, I feel genuinely sorry for the woman and will pray for her continued recovery. I'm not at all close to her, so sending a card or flowers would just be weird. But I will think good thoughts for her. She's not a bad person, she and I just don't get along very well. Nobody deserves to be hit by a bus, no matter what.

This is one test I pass.

the Big lunch + psychic friends network

I drove 45 minutes up to the mountains in Phoenix to meet Big for lunch at the resort his company has him and all his fellow executive-types sequestered at. We ate lunch in the hotel's "businessman's restaurant", and the food was inexcusably expensive, mediocre, and inadequate in all regards. Neither one of us bothered to comment on the food, though, as we hadn't seen each other in over a decade.

It's not like we haven't talked in that time, though. I don't know when it stopped being weird, but somewhere along the line it did: he stopped being the guy who wanted to marry me and then changed his mind, leaving me a crumpled heap in the process. When I got over the shock of it, I realized that he had made the right call, and I got on with my life. It's hard to resent someone for giving you your life back, even if it hurt more than anything I have experienced before or since.

He's married, too, and has two boys just between the ages of my three. We had a lot to talk about -- not just the kids, and not just my health and his, but what we're doing with our lives and jobs (well, his current, my potential), and families and friends and books and music and all that stuff. He knows me, and I know him, and there wasn't a moment of discomfort between us.

Oh, I colored up when he asked me, "What did you do to your finger?" because I had to admit I had carelessly snipped off a bit of the top. And he was appropriately shocked and sympathetic about all the medical crap I've gone through -- we were talking a little bit about money, and I was going on about how we're doing well here, nothing specific you know, but then I had to bring myself up short because honestly, the medical expenses are huge and while they're not killing us, they're taking a big chunk. I said, "It invades every topic somehow, even when I don't want it to." Can't get away from the cancer.

But we managed. He surprised me once, bringing up the ballroom dance classes we took, which I had completely forgotten. We reminisced only briefly. There's no point in going there, because you run into the very painful times pretty quickly. I find it a little curious that I haven't wondered what things would've been like if we had stayed together: clearly, things would've sucked. We're much too alike to be together that way, and much better off as friends.

I don't think I was broadcasting waves of anxiety over that lunch, but maybe I was. Or maybe I was broadcasting waves of anxiety reviewing my work history in 2001. I don't know. But whatever the reason, I got phone calls today from one of my "best friends who is not a sister" in Boston, and another from my best friend in Virginia. Then I got a long, wonderful e-mail from my other "best friend who is not a sister" in Boston. Sometimes, here, I feel quite isolated. I have many aquaintances but few real friends, and it was really wonderful to connect with so many people from my past in such a short space of time.

All of us are lousy correspondents, but it never seems to matter. When I open the e-mail or pick up the phone, we are as close as ever. Shared history, of course, will give you that, and we have all endured some traumas and dramas together. It's harder now to add new events to that shared history, which is why I was willing to invest 90+ minutes of driving for a 90-minute lunch.

I've lived 2500 miles away for over a decade, but we're still not letting go.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

writing assignment

We're still working with the IRS trying to settle our taxes for 2001. They're disallowing the business expense deductions I made that year by saying that what I was doing wasn't a job, it was a hobby.

I thought about that critically and realized that I did not have a good idea of the work I actually did that year. It was before my monthly column at LowCarbLuxury, but right in the thick of my Farscape activity -- and there was a lot of that.

So, as a way of organizing my thoughts, here's a rundown on what I did in 2001:

* I wrote a handful of reviews for Epinions, but most important I kept up my ties with all the other writers I had met through the site.

* I became a reviewer with ForeWordReviews.com.

* I continued my gig as Cinescape.com's Farscape reviewer, writing reviews for each new episode, and filling in reviews for old episodes when I could. I held this position from May 2000 to June 2001, when Cinescape.com was bought out and re-organized.

* Early in 2001, I posted weekly episode reviews and occasional interviews at ThemeStream.com. The ThemeStream site was my first effort at publishing Farscape-related content somewhere "public."

* When ThemeStream.com went under, I applied to and was accepted by the WebSeed Publishing Network, and thus was born FarscapeWeekly.com. Designing the site and writing and uploading all the content was a tremendous undertaking, but was universally praised as "professional" and "exceptional." FarscapeWeekly.com was selected by SFCrowsNest.com as among the "best of science fiction/fantasy online."

* I built a mailing list, which at the time of Farscape's cancellation in 2002 had grown to around 500 confirmed e-Mail addresses. I sent out a weekly "eZine" (e-Mail magazine) with news, trivia, and links to my reviews and analysis. The eZine was extremely popular within the online fan community, and it was voted a "top zine" by Zinos.com.

* In 2000, I began writing for Bob Furnell, the publisher of Jigsaw, the Canadian Magazine of Science Fiction and Fantasy Television. Bob was very interested in Farscape because it was just beginning to be broadcast by Canadian television. I wrote several stand-alone pieces for him, and he approached me with a project idea: would I be interested in putting together a Jigsaw Farscape Special, an entire issue of the magazine dedicated to Farscape? Yes! I put a call for submissions, and collected reviews, character analysis, artwork, and other contributions, wrote some pieces myself, edited it all, and got it up to Bob and his guys in Canada. The issue sold out in record time, and remains one of my proudest accomplishments.

* Early in the year I responded to a call for submissions from freelancers for the Farscape role-playing game being developed for Alderac Entertainment. I am somewhat embarrassed to admit that they took advantage of me: they gave me a writing assignment with the promise of a contract to follow, and I completed the assignment but never saw the contract, much less a dime. My love of the show and my desire for the game to succeed overcame my annoyance when the company called and asked me, as publisher of FarscapeWeekly.com, to pull out quotes from the series that they could "sprinkle" through the text. I did get credit for the quote work in the book's acknowledgements, I did not get credit or compensation for the more substantial work I did, the profile of the Hynerian race.

* In addition to the writing and research I did to publish the eZine, I also interviewed professionals associated with the show, including Ben Browder, the lead actor, and Keith DeCandido, author of two Farscape tie-in novels. (Over the history of the site, I was honored to interview Virginia Hey ("Zhaan"); Melissa Jaffer ("Norante"); Guy Gross, the series' composer; ToyVault, manufacturers of Farscape action figures, and other industry professionals. Of all the varied tasks producing the site required, interviews were probably the most fun of all.)

* I made contacts at both the SCIFI Channel and Jim Henson Co, who helped me confirm news reports and cleared interviews for me.

* Throughout the year, I promoted my site by registering it with online directories and ensuring that it would have high visibility on search engines. (FarscapeWeekly.com is still in the top 20 Google search results for "farscape.")

It's next to impossible not to get depressed looking at that list. I was busy! Also consider that DS2 was born in February, so I did most of that stuff with a nursing newborn -- like his brother and sister, DS2 nursed for nearly a year -- plus a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old. Yikes. I was so ambitious, too -- I produced some really great stuff and laid a great foundation, an "instant market" for my episode guides whenever I got a chance to write them.

Of course, 2002 was the Year Everything Went to Heck: the series was cancelled, and my health problems were escalating. WebSeed went under, and I had to learn to fly solo in the web publishing world. I did manage to get the site up and it's not too shabby, but it's appalling how much content is just sitting on my hard drive. I really need to get my act together, don't I?

But just now I need to polish this up for IRS-consumption. If I can convince them I was serious, we stand to save close to $1K. That makes this assignment the best-paying writing gig I've had in a long, long time.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

good turns

I saw my g/e doc on Thursday, and he concurs that I did myself in by eating very, very badly last Sunday. If I were more rational about my "attack" on Monday, I probably could've seen that for myself: I've never had such a problem before. Even before I had my gallbladder out, I never had a severe attack, I just had a constant, dull ache. Anyway: I don't have to see him for another year, barring any incidents. It's nice to get news like that when you've braced yourself for another expensive invasive procedure to figure out what's going on.

Friday, took the kids for our weekly Border's jaunt, and was shocked to be offered a job, of sorts. Miss M, the storyteller, needs someone to fill in for her when she's on vacation in the late spring. I said yes! She was so happy and relieved that I agreed, she didn't want to cancel the story times. Story times are 3 mornings a week, there are songs and usually 3 toddler-friendly books. I started taking DS2 to storytime when he was tiny, and of course I've been taking all of them just to hang out since before DS2 was born, so Miss M has been aquainted with me and my kids for nearly 5 years now. I think maybe I'm a bit crazy but this is a very low-commitment gig, and it could be a lot of fun. The storytime crowd at Borders tends to average about 20-30 people, half toddlers, half parents. There's the usual mix of wanderers, screamers, and whatnot, but all the parents are engaged in the process, usually. Best thing? Each story session lasts only about 45 minutes, so it's not like I'll be trapped there all day. And of course, DS2 gets to tag along, since the sessions will be after he's out of school. We'll see how it goes.

Today DS1 and I survived the first half of his first 2-day swim meet. He swam the 100 meter freestyle and the 50 meter breaststroke, but he disqualified on the 50m by slipping in two or three freestyle armstrokes -- oops. No big deal, kids "deke" (DQ) all the time, there's always another meet. Tomorrow, the 50m backstroke and the 50m butterfly. I'm fulling expecting him to DQ on the butterfly, too, since he hasn't been practicing that stroke very long. It's OK.

Poor kid fried to a crisp today. I don't know why I thought, "It's February, how bad can the sun be?" It was pushing 90 degrees today in the sun, and my boy is looking lobster-ish. He's quite fair so that makes it worse than it would be on, say, me. I slathered him with moisturizer and put him to bed with some ibuprofen. He denies pain and laughs about how funny his face looks, and has been in a great mood all evening, so I have to think that it's not a bad burn, in spite of how it looks. Tomorrow: sunscreen, and at all future meets, too!

Last: Big is coming in to town for a conference, and we're getting together for lunch on Tuesday. I don't know what to expect, we haven't seen each other in more than ten years. In my mind's eye, he looks the same as when I last saw him, and I know that won't be true of him anymore than it's true of me. But even more than looks I wonder if how he is will be different, as I know I am different. A lot has happened over these years. We'll see.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Everything you wanted to know about Jack Bauer...

... that any woman could tell you:

* It doesn't matter that Jack Bauer is short. Jack Bauer doesn't give a damn if his woman is taller than he is. His ego can take it.

* Jack Bauer knows that real men accept their receding hairlines and consequently keep their hair short. (Notwithstanding the greasy mullet in the Season 5 promo that appeared on the Season 4 DVDs -- I've heard about it, but not seen it personally.)

* Once in love with Jack Bauer, always in love with Jack Bauer. Jack Bauer can torture and kill your (nearly ex-)husband, and you'll still love Jack, regardless. Who needed that other guy, anyway?

* Jack Bauer will always give you time when you say, "We have to talk," but how much time is up to Jack Bauer, because:

* When Jack Bauer says "I gotta go," or "There's no time," there really is no time, and therefore you will not be sucked into a death-spiral vortex of useless and depressing conversation, rehashing the relationship.

* Jack Bauer is all about loyalty. Once a friend of Jack, always a friend of Jack, even if you've become an alcoholic and moved in with a skanky girlfriend after compromising national security in a misguided effort to save your wife's life during a combined hostage/biological weapon crisis.

* Jack Bauer is such a powerful influence that not only did he inspire Chloe O'Brien to act like a field agent instead of a geek, he also is the only known person with whom Chloe doesn't even bother to argue, even a little bit.

* Jack Bauer has infinite patience with the muddle-headed youth of today, except when they've been used as pawns so international terrorists could kidnap their highly-placed Administration official parents.

* Jack Bauer can out-MacGyver MacGyver when it comes to torture devices, weapons, surveillance, and apprehension of terrorists. Obviously, Jack Bauer's imagination, genius, and skill apply in other sensitive areas as well.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

changes pending

I'll be ditching Google in the near future. The question is, what, if anything, will replace the ads? For the record, I've accumulated ~$4/month since posting them -- of course you don't get to collect a penny until you hit a $50 threshold. Or is it $100? Regardless, the odds of me collecting a check in 2006 are slim.

I've a good lead on a search tool. We'll see.

Grand Rounds at Barbados Butterfly

One of the things I like best about Grand Rounds is that it most reliably brings new blogs of high quality to my attention. This week's host, Barbados Butterfly, was new to me but I will be happy to go back to read what she has written.

In addition to the Grand Rounds, the Butterfly has also posted some thoughts on Grand Rounds, and asks for opinions on deciding how future issues of Grand Rounds should be managed. Reading the description of her selection process, I was impressed with the care she took and the effort involved. And I was even more pleased that she decided to include my "group hug" post.