Tuesday, December 18, 2007
He's still on the steroids, and we'll wean him off over the next week. If no rash or swelling comes back, he'll get the "all clear."
I don't know if I should be worried about the little baby mustache he's growing, and I feel a little guilty that his batting average has gone way up since he started his steroid treatments . . .
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
So for the first week, that was the extent of D's symptoms. He was generally a happy little boy who occasionally needed some Tylenol. His liver and kidneys were fine.
Last night his, well, little boy parts were swollen. A horrible thought, but not necessarily something that got us overly worried. He started vomiting in the middle of the night last night, though, which is one of the warning signs of complications — it could be affecting his GI tract.
This morning's blood work showed that his blood was in "okay" ranges, but that it had changed since his blood draw on Dec. 1. His hemoglobin count was on the low end of acceptable, whereas before it was on the high end. This could just be a result of mild dehydration — he wasn't able to keep much down this morning and so hasn't had much to drink in the last 18 hours. (He also hasn't gone to the bathroom in about that time.)
They're putting him on low-dose steroids, but not checking him into the hospital. A side effect of the steroids is that it can make him hungry and hyper — I've never hoped for a hyper child until this day. So the next 24 hours is wait and see.
It didn’t take long after downing his steroid that D found his hungry, hyper side. Since then he’s eaten, drank, peed, and combusted. I got this info second-hand from his mother, but while she was explaining on the phone the current situation, I could hear him practically screaming with laughter and excitement in the background. Twice she had to stop talking to me to tend to D -- once to say “Grampa is here! Please don’t knock him down!” and once to say “Grampa is not a target!” So far so good.
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
Monday, December 03, 2007
I did some Christmas shopping with the boys in the morning on Saturday. Then, at around 2:30, while we were watching Star Wars III, D started complaining about his feet hurting. He had been complaining about his legs, but since he's almost 5 and asks for a food every half-hour, I figured it was just his bones growing.
But I took a look at his feet. Both were swollen, and he was limping on the left.
So I took him to a MedCheck, and they sent us to the ER. D was fun and smiley and adorable through most of this. Right up until they pulled out the needles. He went nuts about them taking blood out of his arm, but they also decided to go ahead and put an IV tube in there in case he needed to be checked in.
It broke my heart to hear my little boy repeating "Please take it out!" over and over.
A little later, a nurse wheeled in a TV and we watched A Bug's Life and D forgot about the IV. After we got the diagnosis, we started talking about going home, and D was afraid to let them take the IV out. He got over that a lot quicker, though.
Now his feet look horrible. The swelling has gone down, but he has a rash all over his feet and his legs and patootie. But he's still in good spirits and enjoying spending some time with his dad.
Monday, November 26, 2007
I liked Marion Jones. She seemed like a perfect role model for all sorts of athletes. She was likeable, successful, pretty, and well-spoken, and she seemed down-to-earth. I remember thinking, back during the Olympics, that we need more people like her. More people we could look up to and emulate.
And now this. Personally, I think Jones's doping scandal is worse than Sammy Sosa's. Few people have ever looked to Sammy Sosa, both inside and outside the stadium, and thought "I want to be like him." But Marion Jones was, or seemed to be, a good person and a good athlete. I'm sure she was a hero to a lot of little girls.
And now look. It's no wonder that superheroes — X-Men, Fantastic Four, Spiderman, Superman, even Ghost Rider, and now "Heroes" — are making such a comeback. It has become apparent that there are so very few "regular humans" out there in the real world that one can actually look up to. Only the superhuman seem to have a decent moral compass.
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
I found out yesterday that, over the weekend, my best friend got married in Las Vegas. Although it wasn't unexpected, I feel strangely conflicted about it. On the one hand, I'm happy that she's at such a great point in her life — a new house, a new husband, a secure job. On the other hand, that's one less single friend — and I know from experience that singles and couples don't always mix well — and one less great single woman off the market.
I suppose I'm mostly just jealous, though. I see how great her life looks right now and how happy she is, and then I go home, alone, to a cold, silent apartment.
Plus, it's my birthday and I'm feeling old...
Monday, November 05, 2007
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
For any nonzero odd number n, the sum of n consecutive numbers is always a multiple of n, and every multiple of n is the sum of n consecutive numbers.
I know that this mathematical truth has probably been well-known for years, but I just discovered it for myself yesterday afternoon. It's exhilarating to discover something like this on one's own.
Monday, October 01, 2007
New set of bloodwork. Tricor has not decimated my liver. And even better:
|D-HDL||42 mg/dL (higher is better)||30–70|
|Coronary Risk Ratio||4.4||<5.0|
All my bloodwork falls within "normal" parameters, and my coronary risk is below average. Woo-hoo!
Naturally, I celebrated with a grease-fest — pizza and breadsticks. Tomorrow, it's back to Boca Burgers and garbanzo beans.
Unfortunately, it looks like I'm going to be stuck on the Tricor for a while. It isn't so bad, but I hate the idea of drugs as a permanent solution. I want to go back to a pill-free life (except maybe the vitamin supplements).
(Can anyone explain how the big empty space showed up before the table? I don't see anything in the HTML that would cause that...)
Monday, August 20, 2007
After some bloodletting on Friday, I went in today (Monday) to get the results. I lost six pounds (hooray!). I dropped 49 points off my triglycerides (hooray!). My LDL and HDL levels were normal (hooray!).
My cholesterol went up 12 points (hoo— what?!).
So now I'm taking another pill daily: Tricor.
I went out this afternoon and bought a nice recumbent stationary bike. I have to go back in six weeks to make sure the Tricor isn't screwing up my liver. Hopefully by then I can show some real results.
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
Well, at least after the weather starts to cooperate. We've had 8 straight days exceed 90 degrees . . . the temperature, not the right angle. I hate to go out in this weather, and I don't really want a bunch of under-sixers dehydrating and having heat strokes under my watch. Also, I hate to sweat.
I guess this is another sign that I'm getting old. I used to think (particularly after seeing a particular Twilight Zone episode) that I would prefer that the earth get sucked into the sun than be thrown out into the cold reaches of space. I could always cope better with hot summers than with cold winters. Maybe I've gotten too accustomed to air conditioning, but I just despise the heat now, and the cold doesn't seem to bother me so much.
Anyway, here's hoping for a freak August snow storm . . .
Tuesday, July 31, 2007
That now makes me wonder how long male and female have been used as nouns. I expect them more often to appear as adjectives, which means that these news reports leave me hanging. "Police tazered a thirty-year-old male who refused to comply with police orders." A 30-year-old male what, exactly? Of course, it's clear that they mean a "male human," otherwise known as a "man," but a dropped noun could easily make the story more interesting and laughable.
"Police today were forced to tazer a 30-year-old cheddar wheel who refused to comply with police orders. The cheese was then taken to a local hospital where it was tested for drugs and subsequently digested by the nursing staff."
Monday, July 23, 2007
My quick story about good luck getting my copy of The Deathly Hallows: I had reserved a copy at the local Border's. After work on Friday (following the directions in the e-mail I got from Border's), I drove to Border's to pick up the bracelet that would "secure my place in line." I was asked to choose a house. I figured that most people would choose either Gryffindor or Slytherin, so I took Ravenclaw, which was neon orange.
Cut to later that night. My family went to an Indians game (where I finally got to see the Indians win!). I didn't get home until 11:30. I changed clothes and went back to Border's. I missed all of the "Hallow's Ball" stuff, but I found someone there I work with. He told me that they had already called orange -- they were using wrist band colors to put people in line. (They were numbered, too, which I didn't realize until then.) So I got there at about 11:45, went straight into the building, and discovered that orange was indeed the first group. I found the last orange bracelet in line and got behind him.
I was in the first 100 people to get the book at this store. I was out of there by 12:15. There were some people who showed up around 9pm and waited three to four hours; I was in and out in half an hour.
I might as well have taken some Felix Felicis during lunch.
I started reading when I got home and read until 2:30 am. I finished the book at 10:50 that night. I'm still letting it settle before I write about it.
For some Harry Potter fun (with no spoilers), check out "The Mysterious Ticking Noise" at YouTube, and some of the other movies by the Potter Puppet Pals.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
They had to cut a lot from the book to get the movie to the "right" size. And I wonder (worry, even?) about some of the choices they made. Is JK Rowling in on the screenwriting? It seems too easy for the screenwriters to cut some little thing that could turn out to be more important than originally thought two or three novels later. For instance, they never mentioned that Trelawney was the one who had the prophecy.
But I don't want to give any spoilers...
Anyway, I'm still iffy on the girl they got to play Luna Lovegood. She certainly had that unshakeable (or oblivious) self-confidence and lack of fear that makes Luna such a outcast character, but the actress, Evanna Lynch, might have overdone the "space case" mannerisms a bit too much. I got the idea that Luna was always on a heavy sedative.
But, still, I'm ready to see the movie again.
I began be trying to factor it down to prime numbers -- but that left me with 11 x 23 x 2069. Then I tried factoring down an approximation of the original number, in this case, 523,456 = 8 x 8 x 8179. 8,179 is a prime number.
I finally came at it from the answer instead of the question, homing in on the answer I needed. The quick version is as follows, with the square root of 523,457 represented as x:
700 < x < 800
720 < x < 730
723 < x < 724
Anyway, the point of going on about this isn't to figure out the square root of this odd number, but to share something I discovered (for myself, not for the mathematical world at large, which surely has already figured this out). The original number, 523,457, is obviously not a perfect square because perfect squares never end in 7. I'd never realized the ban on sevens before, but it makes sense when you consider how you multiply multi-digit numbers.
Looking into this further, I realized that perfect squares always have to end in 0, 1, 4, 5, 6, or 9. I discovered this by squaring each of the first 10 numbers.
But I also discovered a pattern that I hadn't noticed before. Looking just at the last digit, if you start to list the perfect squares in order, those final digits follow the pattern 0, 1, 4, 9, 6, 5, 6, 9, 4, 1, 0, ... I find not only the existence of the pattern intriguing, but also the fact that it's a symmetrical pattern with an intervening zero.
There's also a pattern to the rest of the perfect squares. If you drop the final digit of each perfect square, there is a stepwise addition pattern that shifts up whenever you reach a perfect square that ends with a 9. You'll have to look at it yourelf, but basically, you start at 0. When you hit 9, you start adding 1 to get each of the next perfect squares. When you hit the next perfect square that ends in 9 (49), then you start adding 2 to get the first digit of each number.
I know, most people will just think "so what?" But for me, I get a great feeling from discovering a truth for myself. I also love logic puzzles, and this is something of that sort. Now that I've figured this out, I'll have to try to find the underlying logic of the decimal system that makes this so. And I'll have to see if there is a similar pattern for perfect cubes.
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
Friday, June 29, 2007
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is on the near horizon. People have been throwing up ideas and possibilities and predictions about the ending to this great series of books for a long time — no reason I shouldn't toss my sorting hat into the ring as well. I have a few predictions for Deathly Hallows:
1. Mr. Ollivander will make an appearance. If you remember, he disappeared without any sign of struggle in The Half-Blood Prince. Voldemort will want to know as much as he can about how to defeat Harry, and considering what happened at the end of Goblet of Fire, he'll need to know more about Harry's wand. And why not go to the source? Mr. Ollivander, after all, created (or at least sold) both Voldemort's and Harry's wands.
2. Hagrid's brother Grawp will die, most likely trying to save Hagrid (or, perhaps, vice versa). Keeping Grawp around really serves no other purpose that I can see. (If this were Star Trek, he would be listed in the credits as "Away-Mission Giant.") With Rowling's focus on the value of being able to love, it isn't much of a stretch to imagine Hagrid's attempts to "civilize" Grawp leading Grawp to love and want to protect his brother.
3. One of the Dursleys will do something surprisingly brave for Harry. It'll likely be either Dudley or Petunia.
4. At some point in the novel, we will be led to believe that either Ron or Hermione is dead (or both), but that won't really be the case.
5. Viktor Krum will make a return appearance. I don't know what purpose he will serve — likely something to do with Karkaroff — but I think he'll be back, if only to make Ron self-conscious.
6. Neville will shine through. He may even sacrifice himself (or nearly so) to save his grandmother, which will make her completely rethink her disappointment in him. (If Rowling outlines the "happily ever after" that follows Voldemort's death, Neville will go back to teach Herbology at Hogwarts.
Major predictions — how it will end:
Through the first six novels, Harry was always being protected by the ones who loved him — his parents, Sirius Black, Dumbledore, Hagrid, Mr. & Mrs. Weasley. When the sixth novel ended, his protectors — including the spells that protected him while he lived with the Dursleys — were dying away (I sure hope Mrs. Weasley knows how to cast a good Shield spell), leaving Harry to stand alone against Voldemort.
Dumbledore stated outright that Harry's greatest power is his ability to love. He has also shown how Harry has been protected by the love of others. I think these two ideas will come together in the final chapters of The Deathly Hallows like this:
Voldemort wants Harry Potter for himself, as stated by Snape at the end of The Half-Blood Prince. He won't, then, simply want to kill Harry. There will be no Avara Kedavra cast at Harry. No, Voldemort will want to use the Cruciatus curse to torture Harry to death. At some point, Ginny Weasley, whom Harry loves, will come under direct assault by Voldemort. Without even considering his own life (for that is the nature of love, right?), Harry will come between Ginny and Voldemort and take the brunt of the curse. Ginny will be knocked unconscious.
Now, Voldemort unexpectedly has Harry Potter under his wand and helpless. Out comes the Cruciatus curse. The ending will mirror the final Death Star scenes in Return of the Jedi: Harry (Luke Skywalker) writhes on the ground under the effects of Voldemort's (Emperor Palpatine) power. Snape (Darth Vader) will then cast the final blow that kills Voldemort.
That's right — I predict that SNAPE will kill Voldemort. He may die in the process, but not before revealing why he had to kill Dumbledore and telling us that it was all part of Dumbledore's plan to defeat Voldemort.
Other completely different possibilities that I considered:
Grawp learns, if nothing else, love. But then Voldemort (or his lackeys) kills Hagrid. Grawp, in a sad rage, attacks Voldemort or takes out a whole bunch of Death Eaters, evening the odds in Harry's favor.
Snape will use Polyjuice Potion to "impersonate" Voldemort (which will be difficult, considering Voldemort doesn't have any hair to put in the potion) and disrupt Death Eater tactics and Voldemort's ultimate plan.
Comments welcome. Any bits of info I missed?
Sunday, June 03, 2007
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Thursday, April 26, 2007
The sanctuary was hot that night. I don't know why. It was gorgeous outside, and the rest of the church was comfortable, but it was probably over 80 degrees in the sanctuary.
The public performance didn't go quite as well as the final rehearsal had, but it had its moments. If nothing else, this was a learning experience. What did I learn? Don't write in sharps. Also, it's another thing I've accomplished.
So what's next for Andyman, Composer? When the IWS breaks for summer, I'm going to try to find the time to work on a full-band piece that I've been tossing around in my head for a while. It's a piece that's based on Dr. Seuss's The Lorax, and that's probably what I'll call it. I want to make it so that a band has the option of actually inclusing a reading of the whole book during the piece...but I don't remember exactly how long the book is. I don't have a copy of it right now, but I plan to get one soon.
But for now, I will just bask in the afterglow of my musical accomplishment. At least I would if my gastric system wouldn't keep kicking me in the colon.
Tuesday, April 03, 2007
Oneida, the company that makes nice silverware, began its life as a utopian society in Oneida, New York, in 1848. Founded by John Humphrey Noyes, this religious and social society was based on the ideal of Perfectionism, a form of Christianity with two basic values: self-perfection and communalism. The community worked together to make all sorts of commercial goods, and apparently made some fine bear traps. Eventually, they moved into silversmithing and thence to the Oneida Ltd. of today.
That’s what you can get from the Oneida
web site. From the Oneida Community Mansion House Web page, you can discover that the Oneida community considered itself “a society that lived as one family with more than 300 members.” Furthermore, the society was disbanded in 1881 because of “pressures from within and without.” Both Web sites conveniently gloss over the whole truth, which is much more interesting than silverware and a 93,000-square-foot brick mansion.
The Oneida society had a few good ideas. For example, men and women had equality and equal voice in the community government — this during a time when black slaves were still considered property instead of people. Men and women were equal in the work force, too: they had a community nursery that allowed both men and women to work.
But they had a few ideas that are as radical now as they were then, specifically complex marriage, male continence, ascending fellowship, and stirpiculture.
Complex marriage. In the Oneida society, every man was married to every woman, and vice versa. Community members were not allowed to have exclusive romantic relationships. Every person in the community had his or her own bedroom. This sounds like a lovely little happy arrangement, but let me frame it in a different way: Because of complex marriage, nearly every adult had continuous sexual access to a partner. You might think that this would lead to all sorts of unregulated in-breeding, but wait . . .
Male continence. The men of the community were encouraged, as a sign of grace, to avoid orgasm. This kept unplanned pregnancies to a minimum. It all came down to muscle control. And how did men learn this muscle control? Younger men just entering puberty were allowed to have sex only with women who were too old to bear children, and these older women would help teach the young ‘uns some control.
Does this not sound like a great deal for the women? Because men avoided orgasm, sexual encounters could last for over an hour. And as women got older, they were encouraged to have sex with strapping young boys, all in the name of God! But the women weren’t the only ones to benefit sexually...
Ascending fellowship. J.H. Noyes believed that sex had not only biological, but spiritual and social purposes as well. The Oneidans believed that older people were spiritually superior to younger people, and that men were spiritually superior to women. (So much for equality, eh? But this society was, after all, created by a man.) To improve oneself, one should have sex only with someone who is spiritually superior, i.e., older. This is “ascending fellowship.” Once a person reached a certain level (usually determined by Noyes and his inner circle), he or she was then to practice “descending fellowship” by having sex with the younger folk.
Stirpiculture. Stirpiculture wasn’t one of the original tenets of the community, but was introduced in 1869. It was a selective breeding program to produce “more perfect” children. People who wanted to have children would come before a special committee, which would pair people up based on spiritual and moral qualities. This resulted in 58 children, 9 of whom were fathered by Noyes himself.
The “pressures from within and without” that caused the community’s breakup in 1881 — which the previously mentioned Web sites so quickly glossed over — was a product of two events. First, J.H. Noyes tried to pass leadership on to his son (which never works, does it?). The younger Noyes was an atheist and a weak leader. Second, a warrant was issued against J.H. Noyes for statutory rape. Noyes was tipped off and fled to Canada.
This reminds me of the episode of Numb3rs called “Nine Wives,” which involved, among other things, an in-breeding chart sewn into a quilt. Although life in the Oneida community most likely wasn’t nearly as oppressive or, frankly, scary as what was portrayed in Numb3rs, I’d bet good money that the shows writers started with Oneida as a skeleton.
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
Sunday, March 04, 2007
I plan for this piece to be one movement of a larger, multi-movement piece for six clarinets. Each movement will have a television theme. This one is the evening news. I'm mulling over ideas for a "Saturday Morning Cartoons" movement. I need a slow movement, though. I need it to be slow but not boring -- so I don't want to do a PBS movement or a "Book Channel" movement. (I could do an eclectic "Public Access" movement, though...)
This is actually the second performance of something I've done, now that I think about it. In college, I was a part of a woodwind quintet that would drive out to elementary schools one morning a week and play and talk about our instruments. Among other things, we did some of Handel's Water Music. As you can imagine (he said, rolling his eyes), elementary school kids go ga-ga for Handel. So I used some piano music I had and arranged the theme song to "Tiny Toons Adventures," the Spielberg cartoon that was pretty popular at the time. You could hear the shift in the air as the kids suddenly started paying attention because they recognized the music.
And the arrangement was really good, if I do say so myself.
Wish I still had it somewhere.
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Feathers of dark sky
Drift o'er the frozen prairie,
A blanket of calm.
I start my new job tomorrow...
Friday, February 02, 2007
"Don't sell her; I love her."
It seemed like such an odd song...
It wasn't until the was over that I was informed that I had been listening to Big Head Todd sing
"Don't tell her I love her."
Monday, January 29, 2007
Apparently, some people think that fast food joints hire people specifically to go out and clean the garbage off the parking lot. Some people are completely unable to put themselves in another's position. Here's a quick glimpse at how these litterbugs "contribute" to the daily routine of a fast-food employee:
Imagine that you work at a fast-food restaurant. You make minimum wage. Every day you come home greasy and reeking of kethcup and onions. You're on your feet all day, and you might just make enough to pay the rent and the bills. You cook the food, or you deal directly with hurried customers who expect to get a special order as quickly as a standard cheeseburger, and occasionally you are called off your normal duties to go clean out the restrooms, where excessive toilet paper use often clogs up the johns.
Then some asshole who gets to work from a chair and who never works nights or weekends comes along and decides to make the parking lot his own private trash can. You're asked to go out in an Indiana winter and pick the crap up.
Of all the seemingly random shootings that happen every year, I'm surprised that more of them aren't fast-food employees going nuts and taking out disrespectful customers.
It's probably because they can't afford the cost of a gun.
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
This afternoon, I got an e-mail from my potential future boss, asking if I could stop by for 10 or 15 minutes. It actually sounded like bad news because I figured that it would take only 10 or 15 minutes to tell me that I didn't get the job, but it would take longer than that to offer me the position. Still, I couldn't help but be excited, and I really had to restrain myself from running over there.
But I was neither offered the job nor denied it. She had a couple of follow-up questions for me. At this point, as she put it, the personality of the candidate and how said candidate will fit into the group are more important than any particular skill set. She wanted to ask me a couple questions that were specifically about group dynamics. I think I gave the right answers; at any rate, I gave honest ones.
But the most exciting part was at the beginning, when she told me that I was at the top of the list of candidates for the position. I've been on cloud 9 ever since...
Two quotes from the game:
(Speaking of the Pacers Pacemates (they used to be called cheerleaders!) after a dance number during a time out): "Nothing says "Go team!" like simulated sex."
(After the game): "I wouldn't say he had daggers in his eyes, but there were definitely some sharp letter openers in that gaze."
BTW, the Pacers beat the Bulls.
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Last Thursday I had the interview. It went for a full hour, and I think it went quite well. I was given a lot more information about the job itself, and I was more excited about it after the interview than I was before it. And I kept my "um"s to a minimum (my own little pet peeve).
Today, almost a week later, I got an e-mail asking me to meet with the rest of the group, to give me the opportunity to ask them questions and just meet with them in a casual atmosphere. Step 2! (Or Step 3, if you're starting from the resume.) I'm feeling really good about this!!!
I'm giddy again!
Monday, January 08, 2007
Now I have to go do my homework and come up with some thoughtful, insightful questions to ask during the interview.
Saturday, January 06, 2007
I walked in and, to my relief, only two people were in line in front of me. This Taco Bell is really quite quick, so this fast food run promised to actually be pretty fast.
But then I noticed that the woman in line ahead of me was clutching a little penned note. A list, to be exact.
Sure enough, when she got to the register: "I have a few orders that I need to pay for separately."
Order 1. Pay with cash. Get change. Take receipt.
Order 2. Pay with cash (from the same envelope).Get change. Take receipt.
Order 3. Pay with cash (again from the same envelope). Get change. Take receipt.
Order 4. "Do you want hard or soft tacos with that?" "I'm not sure." Conversation with hands-free cell phone unit. Order hard tacos. Pay with cash. Get change. Take receipt.
Order 5. Pay with debit card. Take receipt. Put away the list. (I sigh.)
Order 6. Finally look at the menu to decide what she wants for herself. Order a number 4 with hard tacos. Open billfold. Pay with cash. Get change. Take receipt.
I could have gone through the drive-through two or three times during the time I waited in that "line." Inconsiderate people drive me mad. Strangers who waste my time drive me madder. I hate people.
(To Taco Bell's benefit, by the time she finished order 6, orders 1-5 were already finished and bagged up.)