Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Two words - cherry banana

I went to see my family doctor today and discovered I have a sinus infection and I guess tonsillitis. She put me on this new drinkable zithromax. It's rather like a science experiment. You add 60 mls of water, shake well and then you have twelve hours to drink the whole bottle. You have to factor in a complex formula involving food. Then the stuff stays in your system for ten days, whereupon I will start over since sinus infections call for two courses of zithromax.

The stuff is billed as cherry banana. The only time those two flavors go together are on a banana split. This medicine does not, I repeat not, taste like a banana split. It tastes like fake fruit with a nice aftertaste of chemicals. The more time goes by the stronger the chemical taste. I was able to determine that the taste buds for awful, horrid, chemicals are lined up along the sides of my tongue, mostly centered near the bicuspids.

I'm somewhat worried that when my doctor said that the medicine would stay in my body for ten days she really meant that the flavor would stay in my mouth for ten days. Good times.

Monday, September 26, 2005

National Pancake Day

The kids and I went out for pancakes today to celebrate National Pancake Day. Once again I was reminded that my memory is not the best. Last time we went to IHOP the waitress pretended to give up ginger ale but it was really coke mixed with sprite, a vile concoction with caffeine in it, a substance I prefer not to give my kids.

So I told today's waitress that last time we were there this happened and asked if they had real ginger ale and it turned out to be the same waitress, which I guess explains why Cam was kicking me under the table. The waitress was quite offended, although I was very polite, I explained that I take a lot of medication and I need to know when I get caffeine but it was no use. I mean, really, I was quite pleasant, I didn't say that last time we were there an idiot lied to us about our drinks or anything but it didn't matter. She was mad at us and I guess she did not remember that I tip pretty well, twenty percent of the original price even though we got a discount for the early bird special.

So she sends over this waiter who was really nervous and I heard her talking to him about us, I think he was expecting that I was going to be horrible to him. But I wasn't, I was nice as I almost always am to wait staff. I told him he was doing a terrific job and I thanked him and I left him a big tip. Next time I'll ask for him, if I can remember who the heck he is.

A nurse was sitting in the booth next to us and she shocked me. She was telling stories of patients who were brought into the ER drunk. She bragged (and that really is the right word) about how "mean" she is to these patients and how they are all liars. She started off telling a story about a fat chick who was found in someone else's house passed out with alcohol poisoning. The fat chick said later that she hadn't drunk very much, or at all and she didn't know how she got there. It sounded like she was with a guy and next thing she knew she was in the hospital. Of course the nurse didn't believe a word of it because who goes to the trouble of trying to get a fat chick drunk and then takes her home? Who would spike a fat chick's drink? We all know they can't possibly be attractive so it must be hogwash. The nurse kept going on about how she was dressed all wrong, in tapered jeans and how she should have been in sweatpants. I have no idea what this means but she sure found it meaningful.

Then she went on about a fourteen year old girl who sat up in the middle of getting a shot of Narcan, which proves she was on some narcotic even though she said she didn't take anything. The nurse said she called her a liar to her face. I don't know, is that the best way of getting the truth out of a scared young teenager? I think not but what do I know? I'm just a fat chick.

Then she says that the girl's toxicology screen comes back negative but it doesn't mean anything because it only tests for "the big seven" which she proceeded to list for her friends. She said it tests for narcotics but not ecstasy so she must have been on ecstasy because she had to have been on something to wake up with the Narcan shot. I don't know, I am not a pharmacist or anything but isn't Narcan specifically an antidote for narcotics, something she just said the girl hadn't taken?

I was so tempted to ask her why she is in the medical profession at all when she hates her patients, (she said so and that she never has any sympathy for them) but I was afraid I would find out she does it because she is a sadist and likes to hurt them. Or that she does it just so she can talk about them. The whole encounter was deeply depressing.

Cam was sick today so I took him to see Dr. Cindy who didn't know I have PTC and was quite shocked. She was also compassionate and has a suggestion for a neurosurgeon for me. I'm kind of intimidated because he is actually one of the best in the world and my in initial reaction was on no, I don't deserve him, he needs to be fixing people who are in much worse shape than I am.

But on the other hand, I've been basically confined to my bed for two plus years, I am very high risk for surgery, I threw up six times yesterday when we went to see Neil and I threw out four times today taking Cam to the doctor and the IHOP and all. Maybe I am sick enough to deserve this guy. Maybe.

Here is the link to my most recent column in which I talk about some movies and some book festivals.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The pleasures of technology

We're not the most plugged in family the world but we do okay I think. Last night Cullen was doing homework when a friend rang him up using Google Talk. He wanted some input for a paper he was writing about how banning of video games would affect society. Since he was on speaker I said hello to him and then when he asked I gave him some ideas about some effects I thought we could see. (Things like a big black market, spending unnecessary money on enforcement, more violence in kids who don't have a way to let off steam, weaker cognitive skills as we lose the ability to keep them honed through problem solving and hand eye coordination, things like that.)

Then the landline rang and it was another friend who Cullen has been helping with physics homework every night. They got into a conversation about how to determine velocity and the friend who was on Google Talk offered to help out also. It was extremely satisfying to see these bright fellows working together without having to go out at night on a school night. In fact when Cullen finished he went right to bed. No fuss, no muss.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Steinbeck on NOLA

I read Steinbeck's Travels With Charley over the weekend. I picked it up for a quarter at the Goodwill. It's easy to get in over my head with a cheap book. I feel like I don't have anything to lose because it's not really costing me anything and if I never read it then it's not a big deal. I can end up reading some pretty powerful stuff that way.

I've had it next to my bed in a pile of books for a couple of months now and finally thought I ought to at least give it a try. It looks kind of dry and I've heard so much about how literary it is that I was sure I was going to have to really work to read it. I was dead wrong. It's a joy to read and I loved it. It's quite funny at times and always interesting.

But the most interesting thing is how 40 years later the eyes of the nation are once again turned to New Orleans to watch as races clash and the military patrols the streets. Steinbeck writes about a group of awful women who scream verbal abuse at a little black girl who is going to a newly segregrated school and how it makes him sick to his soul. Every few paragraphs I read something that made me think it could be written about what is going in New Orleans today.

When people are engaged in something they are not proud of, they do not welcome witnesses. In fact, they come to believe the witness causes the trouble.
If you have a copy reread the last couple of chapters. Listen to what he is saying and you'll see what I mean.

Friday, September 16, 2005

The leaves are turning colors

And I have a nasty cold. I'm completely miserable. I'm too cold with the fan on and too hot with it off. Coughing and sneezing makes the pressure in my head worse. This is not my idea of how to spend my weekend.

I was just talking to a chick who had it for four weeks. Four weeks! Why can't we have a sickness that lasts four minutes? If we must be sick at all let's implement some term limits. Four minutes sounds about right to me.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Why, why, why?

Once again I ask myself why on earth we write. Why go through this hell? Why try so hard to find just exactly the right words to express some nebulous concept? It's really hard. Why don't we do something easy like conquer the stars?

This week's column is about the new film Proof, the First Amendment Project auction and like two lines about talk like a pirate day.

I did a survey for Harris polls today and was pleased to see that more people have read fifty or more books in the last year than have read no books in the last year.

This link to the results should be good for a month.

I found out that the credit union was withdrawing the money to pay for my new car twice, once from checking and once from savings. Luckily I got it fixed, I hope, fairly painlessly but good grief, I am worried about this automatic deduction thing. First they started it two weeks before they were supposed to and then they take out twice as much money. Beautiful.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Good Stuff Abounds

It's very easy to be overwhelmed by all the grief and bad news coming out of the south. Every day we hear a new horror story that resulted in death or a terrible loss that will take a very long time to get over. How do you deal with shock after tragedy after horror?

For my family we try and find the good stories mixed in with the bad. Every time we hear of a family reuniting or a friend given up for dead who is found alive we are comforted. When we read of the every day folk who managed to pull of heroic rescues we're filled with pride.

I'm looking for good in the financial news we publish, HUD is opening up thousands of homes for the displaced. Freddie Mac has suspended mortgage payments due for victims for three months. The VA is going to let evacuated people use 5100 of their foreclosed properties. There are lots of stories like these and we can feel better when we read them. Someone is doing something that appears to be the right thing.

And of course we look for the good stuff in day to day life. I was very pleased and excited to see that Cory Doctorow's Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town was chosen as this week's skiffy book club selection for my county public library. That's exciting and wicked cool.

Monday, September 12, 2005

More about Mr. Bright

Cullen's teacher also told him to make a perfect circle using a straight edge. yeah.

Liberal Blogosphere for Hurricane Relief

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Sunday, September 11, 2005

The KKK wants me

I haven't been blogging here for a while. I've been stricken with a series of really nasty headaches, the kind that convince me that the theory that intracranial hypertension is caused by a series of small brain bleeds must be accurate. I know it's not actually possible but I could swear I feel my brain bleeding.

Anyway, I've posted some at Making Light but for most of last week I wasn't posting anywhere, just concentrating on writing my column and getting through work without my head exploding.

This weekend Cullen was gmailing a friend and an ad for KKK t-shirts popped up. These things are appalling, with slogans like "The original boyz in the hood" and "I'm dreaming of a white Christmas" and "I want you" and then an Uncle Sam guy in the robes. At first I was sure they were a joke but they are deadly serious, if hilarious in their awfulness. The site mentions that you can hide the logos and stuff, they are "discrete" so I guess you wear them and then flash them to liked minded friends.

Cullen has homework for his history class. Check this out, possibly the most insensitive (and that's being kind) assignment I have ever seen.

2) Prepare the opening statements for either side in an 1890's debate: Resolved - The Ku Klux Klan was necessary."

What the fuck? This given to a class that is mixed races, with lots of black students. Necessary? I don't care that he is offering them the chance to be against this argument, why would those particular words even occur to him?

I know, I know, it's overdone to use this argument, but honestly, can you imagine telling a class of Jewish kids that they have to go home and do the same assignment with "Resolved - Hitler's final solution was necessary"? It's insane.

And really, the fact that the students are not all white is not even the central issue. Why is anyone suggesting to any children that the KKK is "necessary"? We're talking about a terrorist organization that murdered innocent citizens and is still active to this day. You can get t-shirts with burning crosses on them online, today.

This is the 21st century last I checked. We should not be passing hate from the nineteenth century on to our next generation.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Being poor means not having options

Patrick posted a link to John Scalzi's brilliant essay on what it means to be poor. I linked to it from the Grapevine. I've been kind of sobbing since I read it because it's so true and it brings back so many memories.

We're not poor like we used to be but we're always struggling.

For me, for now, being poor means panicking because the school lunches have doubled in price, gas has gone up a dollar this week, housing has tripled in the last few years, my copay for doctors and medicine has doubled, and my salary is still less than a third of the median for our county.

Being poor means not going to the open call for Invasion today because I can't afford the gas.

Being poor means when you buy a POS van so you can drive your disabled boyfriend around and it malfunctions two weeks later and you crash and he dies, you keep on driving that van for three years because you can't afford to get another vehicle.

Being poor means you stop driving because you can't bear to look at the van so you essentially become a shutin.

Being poor means deciding whether to pay the electric or buy medicine.