Saturday, July 30, 2005

More advertising evil

I don't know who's in charge of booking advertising on the Toon Disney channel, but it's gotten worse. Yes, they're still advertising "Space Bag" to children—the plastic storage bags that you vacuum all the air out of to compact your clothes and pillows and such. (One handy use they showed was a suitcase packed full of compressed bags of clothes that otherwise wouldn't fit into the suitcase. Great idea! As long as the hotel where you'll be staying offers hose vacuums when you're ready to pack for the return trip.) [Sadly, those Best Western ads Ben was swayed by earlier this summer did not address the vacuum-related amenities. Yes, "you can have free coffee" and "you can stay for five days," sure. But how are they fixed for guests who need to vacuum-pack their suitcases?)

Worse still, this channel aimed at kids is also running ads for the Craftmatic adjustable bed. Yes! Merchandise aimed at the children's grandparents' demographic group! Ben has urged me to purchase the Craftmatic posthaste. "We don't need that because we already have beds we like," I explained. "But it's more comfortable!" rebuts the most willing consumer of advertising ever.

Are there any picture books out there that help explain to kids why commercials are not to be believed?

Funny link of the day

From McSweeney's Internet Tendency comes Matt Alexander's hilarious jokes, entitled ALTHOUGH I LIKE A GOOD GEORGE W. BUSH JOKE AS MUCH AS THE NEXT GUY, SOME OF THEM SEEM GRATUITOUS AND MEAN-SPIRITED. It's actually a link from last week, but hey, it's new to me and probably to you. Sample joke:

Q: How many telemarketers does it take to screw in a light bulb?

A: Wouldn't a more relevant question be "How many pounds of cocaine has Bush snorted?"

Friday, July 29, 2005

The Canterbury Tales

I was listening to NPR today (I don't know what show) and heard some of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales set to a rap beat, complete with bleeping of the words too hot for the FCC. It's a fine concept, sure, but the execution suffers because the rapping is done by a very white-sounding Canadian by the name of Baba Brinkman. According to the CBC, "Brinkman likens the competitive nature of telling entertaining stories to the rap freestyling seen in Eminem's movie 8 Mile." Yes, that may well be, but sadly, one can't really liken the sound of Brinkman's Chaucerian rap to Eminem (or any other popular hip-hop artist). Brinkman really just sounds...Canadian. I don't think 50 Cent has to worry about his spot on the charts.

Solving the Umbrella Problem

It's a rainy day, and you use your umbrella as you return to your car. By the time you reach the car, the umbrella is dripping wet. What would be a good place to toss that umbrella inside the car? "The front seat floor," you may say. Or "the back seat floor." Wrong! Floors are for suckers!

The engineers at VW have devoted considerable efforts to solving this problem that none of us even recognized as a problem. Wanna guess what sort of space they've designed for a wet umbrella? Go ahead. I bet you won't come up with the right answer.

Belated weekend summation

Over the weekend, Mr. Tangerine and I took Ben up north to play with his cousins at an indoor water park (that indoor thing was handy, given the cold rain on Saturday and the sweltering heat on Sunday). Now, we all know that Wisconsin is America's Dairyland. And they love their fatty German meats (wienerschnitzel, bratwurst) and their deep-fried fish (a stunning percentage of restaurants offer "fish fry" every Friday night), but lest you think they're super Atkins adherents, let me tell you the sides served with the fish fry at our hotel: cole slaw (hey! vegetables!), bread and rolls, french fries, potato salad, and potato pancakes. (The fish fry? All-you-can-eat, bien sûr.)

The upshot of the Wisconsin diet is that, although the state doesn't make the list of the top 10 fattest states, the folks do run large. The stores stock larger clothing sizes, on average. And I looked positively bony at the water park. It was one big panniculus party, and assorted man boobs were on display. There was also a man who was so furry, I wanted to sic the Queer Eye Fab Five on him for some compulsory waxing. His back! His arms! His shoulders! Omigod, the shoulders. (My eyes!)

Regional language fun: An employee directed me to the "bubbler" to get some water. That's one of those things the rest of us call water fountains or drinking fountains, of course.

The 8-year-old nephew reported seeing the British zombie comedy, Shaun of the Dead, recently. Apparently, my brother-in-law rented the DVD and let his 8- and 5-year-old kids watch it. Now, I enjoyed the movie myself, but damn! is it ever violent. In what circumstances do you feel R-rated movies are appropriate for young children?

Sunday morning, Ben woke up with a stuffy nose, and the clever boy made sure it didn't progress to a nasty cold. I'm delighted for him. However, he transmitted it to me, and the sinus pressure is most bothersome. I'm lazy enough as it is—tack some malaise on top of that, and it's a miracle if I get out of the house.

I did get out of the house today, because the lovely people from Volkswagen brought me a new car for a 24-hour test drive (that viral marketing dealio) and I had to try it out. I was hoping to replicate the experience of driving a new Passat 5 years ago, when it was hip and newfangled and other drivers liked to make eyes at it. Sadly, the only attention the 2006 Passat got was from an elderly woman working at the grocery store. She admired it and patted it gently. Where are the young hipsters ready to goggle at the sight of it? (This may not bode well for the new model's reception in the marketplace.)

Okay, I'm going to lie down now...

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Debunking the Lance Armstrong story

Every July when the Tour de France rolls around, Lance Armstrong mania rides uphill to another peak. Part of the Lance mystique is the status as a cancer survivor who beat the odds, of course, and the mythology generally credits his survival to his conviction to beat cancer. Yes, if only you have the will to survive, cancer doesn't stand a chance! Right? Wrong. What newly diagnosed person doesn't hope to beat the cancer? Propagation of the Lance Armstrong mythology spreads the idea that cancer can be cured only if the patient has enough will power—from which we can infer that those who succumb to cancer just weren't trying hard enough.

This is crap, of course. Lance achieved a cure because his cancer cells were susceptible to the treatments used. If he'd had a more virulent type of cancer, or if he'd used less effective treatments, it's possible that all the will power in the world would have been no more effective than slapping a Band-aid on his tumor site.

The eloquent writer known as Cancer, Baby gets into this issue in depth in herlatest post. For those who haven't read her blog, she's currently undergoing treatment for recurrent ovarian cancer, and she's done some reading on the whole "will to beat cancer" concept. Read it. Share the link with people you know.

How revolutions are born

This afternoon, the Chicago Tribune website posted an article about the surprise birth of a gorilla at the Lincoln Park Zoo. The byline is "Tribune staff reports," and this sentence appeared within the article:

The baby guerilla's gender remains unknown, as the mother is holding its offspring close to her body and may continue doing so for months, officials said.

The baby has yet to be named. May I suggest Che if it's a boy?

Thursday, July 21, 2005

You are all reading One Good Thing, aren't you?

In her latest post, Flea has created another one of her trademark brilliance. One part amusing observations, two parts moving tales from motherhood, and eight parts Southern-girlhood memoir. (It goes to eleven!)

Flea such is a gifted writer. I don't know how she remembers her childhood so clearly, and how she's able to write about it so movingly, so evocatively. There's absolutely a book percolating in her soul. It's not that anything so unusual happened in her childhood—it's how beautifully she captures the mind of the child she once was, the children we all used to be. I look forward to the day she's got enough time to put all those essays in order for a mighty compelling book. Damn, that's some great writing. Go. Read. It. Now.

Weird dream: It came from the '80s

Gotta love the inexplicable dreams!

The contractors on my condo were (inexplicably) Hall and Oates. They showed up to do a little work, carrying in sacks or plaster or cement, as I headed out for a walk, and told me they'd pay me as one of their laborers if I wanted to stick around and pitch in. I assured them that I so seldom get exercise, I really had to go for this walk. The guys were disappointed to see me leave.

I realized how ratty my striped sweater was and decided to toss it after I wore it this one final time.

Eventually my walk took me to a smallish city grocery store. Who should I run into there but my first college boyfriend! He had just had his picture taken with all the other people there who were wearing their hair spiked up (actor Zach Braff was in the photo, too). As I craned my neck upwards to look at the ex from '84, I observed that he must have grown at least three inches taller since we dated. "How tall are you these days?" I asked. 6'6", 6'7", he said. "What? I know you couldn't have been more than 6'3" when we went out." He demurred, claiming that he really was that tall back in the day. Thanking my lucky stars that I hadn't ended up married to him with a permanent crick in my neck, I took my leave and continued my walk.

And then I woke up. WTF? What was I doing wearing a sweater in tatters? It wasn't even, like, "Flashdance" tatters. Just...loose yarns sticking out like an angry cat had gotten hold of the sweaters.

More data for my testosterone theory

I have long suspected that poor behavior in men is correlated with their testosterone level, in kind of a bitchy man version of PMS. According to Tyler Cabot's piece in the August 2005 Esquire, maybe I'm onto something.

Irritability has been linked to "unhealthily low testosterone levels." Low testosterone may also be tied to depression. High testosterone levels, on the other hand, may make a fella more likely to smoke, drink, fight, and get hurt. Levels shoot up in the morning. Testosterone production gets a boost from a rigorous workout, in moderation; after an hour of exercise, levels start to drop. Sports fans whose teams win experience an increase in testosterone, whereas a losing team's partisans suffer a drop.

Help me with this theory. Do you know a man who pisses you off because he's extra irritable? Or who's cranky in the morning? Or who gets pissy around workout time? Who's totally unbearable when his team wins or when it loses? I can't figure out whether assholery would go along with low or high testosterone levels. I always figured it was high levels that produced the assholery. Mr. Tangerine gets extra-ornery when his team loses (low testosterone), but also tends to be grumpy early in the morning (high testosterone, but confounded by the factor of sleepiness). Let's do some science here, folks!

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Secular cynics, rejoice!

My eyes bugged out like a runaway bride when reading the Tribune article about the Precious Moments theme park. Yes, really! It's no joke. Conveniently located in Missouri so you can swing by Branson on the same trip.

In addition to the wedding chapel and the dead-children-gone-to-heaven parts of the Precious Moments park, there's also a Fountain of Angels. The Trib article describes it thus:

Twice daily, the Fountain of Angels erupts into life.

In the center of its own 10-story theater, the multilayered fountain blasts water over 120 4-foot bronze statues of bare-bottomed cherubs, cheerful-looking fish and water-spouting ducks.

As the music soars -- a chorus of recorded Christian music (example: "In the Garden") performed by members of the London Philharmonic -- the fountain bursts into a Vegas-style light and water show. In one, "The Everlasting Promise," a booming voice narrates tales of Genesis and the New Testament as corresponding biblical images are projected onto a wall of water behind the fountain.

At the end, a smiling Jesus, played by an actor bearing a striking resemblance to a bearded Orlando Bloom, greets the audience from heaven with open arms.

"It just gets me every time," says Joann Hannaford, 65, sitting outside after the show. "It's just totally fantastic. I've seen this show six or eight times, and every time it touches me. Like I'd never seen it before. . . . The ending is always the best, when you see Christ walking toward you."

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

My kid cracks me up

We've had a variety of imaginary friends hanging out here for months and months, all girls: Becky, Cindy, Cinderella, and Lizzie. Finally, Ben has added some males to the imaginary realm: his neighbors, Dixon and Peterson. You should hear this kid going on about what Dixon and Peterson are up to. We're just waiting to hear something like "Dixon and Peterson landed the Enron account, so they took us all out for drinks."

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Reading the paper

Frank Rich's column on the political underpinnings of Comeuppancegate (JT's coinage) is a good one. Are we really approaching the point at which Rove falls on his sword and takes his pasty head elsewhere?

Based on this article, I don't think I'll be buying that hybrid Honda Accord I've been craving. The more upscale hybrids, apparently, use that electric motor to kick performance up a notch, offering only minimal improvements in fuel efficiency. I want a responsive V6 engine that gets me up to highway speed effortlessly, and I want to be green. Honda pretended I could have that with the hybrid Accord, but dammit, I will probably have to choose between being truly green and having kickass performance. Why? Why can't I have it all? Can I blame Detroit?

Speaking of cars, you've heard of viral marketing. The automaker who made my current car (a 2000 model that was quite a hottie when it was new—I'm such a hipster, don't you know) has redesigned the car for 2006, and they're trying a viral marketing thing to promote it. Later this month, they will deliver a 2006 car to me for a 24-hour test drive. They're hoping that I will love it and rave about it to everyone I know, trendsetter that I am. Back in the day, I raved about the 2000 model without even being asked. Now that they're doing intentional rather than natural viral marketing, will it work? You'll find out in a couple weeks if suddenly I start raving about some new car that's not out yet. Uh-oh. What if they give me a four-cylinder instead of my beloved V6? If they do that, they'll be antiviral.

How come my corner of the blogosphere never heard about this? Teenage blogger tells his folks he's gay, and they send him to straight reeducation camp. The camp rules include no Internet and no TV ('cause we all know how gay TV is), so he hasn't posted since he arrived there. Blog people, keep me posted if you hear what happens when he finishes the program, will you? Thanks.

Let me do a little volunteer viral marketing here. This article is about the hoops PC users must jump through to prevent and remove computer viruses, malware, and other crap from mucking up their systems. A couple people they interviewed bought new computers to start fresh; one woman selected a pricey Apple laptop. "She is instituting new rules to keep her home computer virus-free. 'I've modified my behavior. I'm not letting my friends borrow my computer,' she said, after speculating that the indiscriminate use of the Internet by her and her friends had led to the infection problems." Hello? People? It's a Mac. All she has to do it use it like she used to use her PC back in the day, and she should have no problems. All that malware/spyware/virus crap is targeted at the Windows operating system. Nowhere does this article mention that Apple users are virtually immune to these problems. I've used my current G5 Mac for about 18 months, I've taken no special precautions or actions, and I've had no trouble. It's lovely, really.

Can you tell my kid's still asleep? Leisurely reading and writing time, ahhhhhhhh.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

What, you thought that link would take you somewhere real?

The biology behind men bugging the crap out of women

You know that thing where a man is blind to the messes he leaves around the house, and he is also deaf to the arguments against drinking out of the carton and putting it back in the fridge? The Lioness has written a scholarly treatise on this very topic. Ah, it is so true, you will laugh and you will cry. The Lioness has studied the male specimen closely, and we can learn from her.

For example: The Male is always on the lookout for predators. He cannot therefore be bothered to notice that clothes have dried and need to be folded and put away - or any other thing for the matter. It would be unnatural and perhaps even dangerous. The Female's safety must always come first. The Lioness knows all.

P.S. The Lioness blogs from Portugal. I have a warm spot in my heart for Portugal for a weird reason. I have a good friend whose dad wanted to separate himself from his family, so he changed the last letter of his surname from an S to an O; this totally throws off anyone who's trying to guess their national origin. The family joke was that when the U.S. census person came around, they'd put on a fake accent and say, "We are from Brazil. We speak Portuguese."

Plea for advice from parents

Okay, so Ben was putting out gooey eye boogers all day, and I'd wipe them away with a Kleenex (technically a Puffs brand facial tissue) and go on about my business. It was only after 5:00 (and after the pediatrician has gone home for the day) that I realized: Hmm, this could be a conjunctivitis/pinkeye thing. I checked a couple books, which indicated that yeah, the goo probably means bacterial pinkeye. The supercontagious crap. I tend to touch my face more than I should, so undoubtedly I have inoculated my own eye sockets with Ben's bacteria.

"Are you stupid?" you ask. First, don't say that word. It's not nice. Second, well, he woke up and said he wasn't feeling great, and he sniffled a little, so I had "mild cold" on the mind and happily accepted a profusion of eye goo as part and parcel of that.

So my question is this: How long do I have before my own eye gets itchy, red, and gooful?

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Hammer pants!

Who can forget those crazy baggy pants popularized by M.C. Hammer back in the day? Some clothing manufacturer out there, apparently, not only remembers the Hammer pants, but has produced a low-rise version for women. Swear to god, I saw a chick on the sidewalk today wearing knit Hammer pants. Tight around the ankle, crotch curving in at the knees (ample room for knee-length balls if she had 'em), and a folded-over low-rise waistband. It was accessorized nicely with a spiky jewelry thing protruding from her chin piercing.

I have got to get myself a camera phone.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

We need a name for Karl Rove's leak scandal

Lifethreateningleakgate? Blabgate? Effingliargate? I don't think these are catchy enough. You have any better ideas?

Handy-dandy newspaper links

The maps at let you click on a city and view the current day's front page of the city's newspaper(s). Almost all the U.S. papers seem to have Hurricane Dennis on the front page today, with most hyping the "slams ashore" aspect but a few pointing out things like "storm damage minimal." I have to say I've just lost a little respect for all the newspapers playing up the drama. What do they think they are—TV news?

The banner on the Maharashtra Herald's front page has teasers for show biz articles inside: Why Sharon Stone will never age! Meet the Housewives! Who knew "Desperate Housewives" was on in India? And Sharon Stone looks damn good, but I daresay her face has matured over the years. Compare her in Total Recall to now. I mean, really.

Newseum has 405 newspapers from 45 countries. Check it out.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Are you reading Finslippy?

I've read posts at Finslippy a couple times in the past. Tonight, here in the wee hours, out of boredom, when I should really be sleeping, I clicked on Finslippy in somebody's blogroll. I've just read three months of posts, and that Alice is fricking hilarious. I can't even give you funny little excerpts, because the hilarity, it's like a pandemic over there. Her little boy cleaning his balls. Promising ponies to readers sending good vibes or prayers for her dad in the hospital. (Ponies!) Coaxing a smile from a cranky Russian cashier via an inadvertent potting-soil mustache. And much, much more! You go. You will giggle.

Saturday, July 09, 2005


Late last night, I got to thinking about something that I usually accept with equanimity, but right now it's making me sad. It's the unfairness of my quasi-infertility. (Is there a term for when you might or might not be able to get pregnant, but it would be a really bad idea to try?)

I had a rough time of it when I was pregnant with Ben and after he was born—I was in the hospital twice at the end of the first trimester with scary-high blood pressure. After that, there were weekly visits to the high-risk specialists. Frequent migraines and a worrisome, unidentified problem with my kidneys. Then preeclampsia, an emergency C-section, a spinal headache after the epidural (it made the migraines seem like the height of physical pleasure by comparison), difficulty getting my blood pressure to come down so I could leave the hospital. Not to mention a preemie in the NICU (fortunately, his NICU course was fairly standard, but 5 1/2 weeks is a long time to be in the hospital). The whole lactation thing was a nightmare. The La Leche League book, The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, had chapters on various breastfeeding challenges. I had four separate chapters' worth of problems, and there was no final chapter addressing what to do if you're screwed four ways.

A few weeks after we brought Ben home from the hospital, it was time for a kidney biopsy to figure out what the deal was. This involved an overnight stay in the hospital and large needles extracting tissue samples from my kidneys. Lying flat on my back to keep pressure on the puncture wounds made it almost impossible to pump milk, so I didn't; that pretty much took care of my lactation problems by rendering all efforts moot. It was actually a huge relief to stop pumping. I think my body needed every calorie to heal itself, and couldn't spare the energy to manufacture baby food.

The various doctors I talked to afterwards—my internist, the nephrologist, the OB—mostly didn't talk about the idea of a subsequent pregnancy. If they raised the subject, I quickly shut them down with a "no," and they didn't offer a rebuttal. Last year, my nephrologist finally mentioned pregnancy as a possibility—but warned that it would drastically speed the demise of my kidneys. The idea of kidney failure is scary enough as it is—but to develop it when I had a new baby? Not good. I'd also be starting that pregnancy with impaired kidneys, so I suspect I wouldn't make it all the way to seven months next time. And the baby wouldn't be likely to have such an uncomplicated course in the NICU. So no, I don't think so.

I would dearly love to have another baby—if I could conceive effortlessly. If I could have a normal, healthy pregnancy lasting at least 36 weeks. If I could have a full-sized, healthy baby. If it wouldn't mean I'd start asking strangers if they could spare a kidney. But it's not to be.

I recognize, of course, that in the grand scheme of sadnesses—death, cancer, intractable infertility, terror attacks—this one's not huge. But it's mine.

Friday, July 08, 2005

New terminology

(Do not be afraid. No more urology. But can you imagine the Google searches that are going to bring peoplel here now?)

After I explained the concept of jaywalking to Ben, he opted to label those folks wandering across the street in the middle of the block "badwalkers." Today, he introduced a new word for it: stinkywalkers.

Male urology!

I just finished editing nine short papers on the male genitourinary tract. I have learned so much!

We all know men are supposed to get a digital rectal exam at their annual check-ups starting at age 40. What's involved? A whole lotta inspection and manhandling of the bits that are accessible via that route, particularly the prostate. But be alert: "A urine specimen should be taken prior to palpation of the prostate, as prostate massage squeezes prostate secretions into the urine."

About that prostate—what's it for? "Its principal known function is to supply the fluid that propels sperm out of the penis during ejaculation." (Don't you love the writing style? It's just so fun!) And what about the rest of the anatomy? The tumescent dong's purpose is "to enter female genitalia and act as a conduit for forceful ejaculation of sperm." (That must be the "propelling" we just learned about.)

Also, the ball skin has "a distinctive corrugated texture." Is that what they mean by "box"? (I didn't think so.) Back in his stand-up comedy days, Tim Allen described it as more a case of God saying, "We've got some extra elbow skin left over." I haven't looked at my elbows the same since.

After I finished the anatomy and examination papers, I moved on to the most cringe-inducing paper I've ever had the misfortune to edit: everything you ever wanted to know about STDs and the male genitalia but were too terrified to ask because you were afraid they'd show you pictures. (I am so grateful this paper was not illustrated.) There were many evocative terms and concepts: Bloody ejaculation. Prostate massage. Bed rest with scrotal elevation. (What?!? How?) Warty lumps. (Which would be a great name for a band.)

Gonorrhea? You don't want to mess around with that. "Copious urethral discharge stains undergarments and may make changes of clothing necessary, while scanty discharge may be apparent as beads of moisture or small crusts at the head of the penis. The discharge may be clear or foul-smelling." See? They should totally market a macho version of pantiliners.

Okay, I have exorcised the urological demons and promise not to write any more on the topic for at least a month.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Satire is alive and well

I can't say who Bush is going to nominate to the Supreme Court seat vacated by Sandra Day O'Connor, but I sure enjoyed reading Michael Bérubé's wickedly funny prediction. Go, read, laugh—because laughing is generally more fun than crying.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Collected Short Works, circa 1974

I'm not sure what grade I was in when I wrote these—maybe third or fourth grade?

First, in honor of Bitch Ph.D.:

The Beautiful Shoes

I've been wishing for a pair of shoes.

One day I got some beautiful shoes.

"Oh, how beautiful they are," I remarked. THE END

(The teacher drew a red star and wrote, "Lovely. What did you do in them?" Pshaw! When it comes to beautiful shoes, the point is that the shoes are beautiful, not what you might do while wearing them. "I was fabulous in my beautiful shoes, bitch!")

Next, in honor of the Bush administration's record in environmental protection, my younger self is proud to offer:

That Poison Pollution

The air used to be so very clean,
but now it's very dirty.
Let's all work to clean it up
or it may kill us before we're 30.

Weird Dream #4 (1978 edition)

I tend to have vivid dreams, and still recall a plane-crash dream I had when I was a kid. My mom's a total pack rat, so she saved a bunch of papers from my grade-school years. Perhaps one reason that dream remained so clear over the decades was that I had written it down—and my mom gave me that sheet of looseleaf paper today. Here, without further ado or editing, my write-up from about sixth grade:

The Huge Crash of '78 (a dream)

Amy Anderson and I were laying down on our backs on the front lawn. Somehow, all the grass has a kind of brownish color, but that didn't matter.

"There goes an American Airlines," I said, not caring that it was very low (about twenty feet above the Co-op's roof).

It continued on in its northerly-going path, engines aroar.

Then Amy A. practically shouted, "Look how low it's getting!" (It looked like it was going to crash into the O'Donnell's building.)

I thought there was a chance, a big one at that, that they were going to crash, but I decided to just watch and see what happened.

Then the plane started tipping from side to side. Finally, it tipped over and was flying up-side-down!

In some weird way it turned back over, and also must have backed up so that it was going a slightly different direction. Then it went over the corner of the O'Donnell's court and the engines quieted while the screams became louder. The next thing I knew the plane was right outside my house. A lady, who was in hysterics, screamed, "I know he's dead, I just know it. My husband is dead!"

I tried to comfort her by saying, "The odds are for you that husband's alive." She kept running anyway, but I didn't really care. I had other people to take care of.

I then went over to Debbie's house. She had either company or at least twenty plane crash survivors eating all her food up. I knocked and said, "Is Debbie there?"

The woman's reply was, "There's nobody named Debbie here."

I answered, "But she lives here."

"Not anymore," she said.

And that was the end of my dream.

I have omitted the numbered footnotes keyed to explanatory drawings. I'm impressed that although I used "laying" in place of "lying" (which I do to this day) and some of the wording's a little bizarre, everything was spelled and punctuated correctly. Now, if a bright sixth-grader can remember whether a period goes inside or outside parentheses or quotation marks, how come so many adults these days don't have a clue?

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Hey, cooter wandees, know what's worse?

Many of us girls have been so lucky as to undergo transvaginal ultrasound, or what some folks call "gettin' speared with the cooter wand."

The project I'm editing right now pertains to urology, and I just learned about a test doctors do for fellas with prostate trouble: rectal ultrasound, in which the cooter wand becomes a heinie wand. (Yikes!)

Urologists have many tricks up their collective sleeve. They've concocted voiding cystography as well, in which the patient is injected with a contrast dye and then basically x-rayed WHILE PEEING.

Although that's nothing compared to what I read about back in the day when I handled a book on gastrointestinal radiology: defecography. It's a lot like voiding cystography, but with #2 instead of #1. (I will never forget the key piece of equipment: "a radiolucent commode." That steel toilet's just gonna hide the action; better to go with plastic.)

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Friday, July 01, 2005

Brooke Shields fights back

Tom Cruise gets a well-deserved smackdown in Brooke Shields' essay in today's New York Times. Brooke is grateful for the antidepressant medication and the therapy that allowed her to emerge from postpartum depression, and believes the "vitamins and exercise" Dr. Tom Cruise recommends would not have sufficed.

Hey, infertiles! Did you know Brooke tried to conceive for two years and did a couple rounds of IVF? I hadn't known. Brooke had expected to be so happy when her child was born: "But instead I felt completely overwhelmed. This baby was a stranger to me. I didn't know what to do with her. I didn't feel at all joyful," she writes.

Brooke offers a fantastic suggestion for broader management of postpartum depression: "If any good can come of Mr. Cruise's ridiculous rant, let's hope that it gives much-needed attention to a serious disease. Perhaps now is the time to call on doctors, particularly obstetricians and pediatricians, to screen for postpartum depression. After all, during the first three months after childbirth, you see a pediatrician at least three times. While pediatricians are trained to take care of children, it would make sense for them to talk with new mothers, ask questions and inform them of the symptoms and treatment should they show signs of postpartum depression."

I think that's an excellent idea. I cried at some of Ben's first pediatrician visits, and asking me how severe the stress was would have been a logical move for the pediatrician. She did tell me I didn't have to try nursing, pump milk, and formula-feed at nearly every feeding—I was really putting a huge burden on myself, and my stress level plummeted wonderfully after I stopped the lactation business. Before I quit nursing, I did ask my internist if it sounded like I had postpartum depression or if I was just upset for a number of very good reasons. She said either way, if I stopped nursing, she'd be happy to prescribe an antidepressant for me. I was lucky, and the misery lifted without medical help once I quit nursing. (Mind you, I'm not suggesting that anyone should quit nursing if she's having a rough time during the postpartum period. In my individual case, it was physically too much to ask of my body at that time.)