Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Keplers, a local bookstore, closes abruptly this morning

I just read Kepler's Bookstore goes out of business from Neil Gaiman's journal of all places. I'm totally stunned. I never really bought books there, because it's a little far for me and Books Inc is a local bookstore that's a little closer to me. Plus I just don't buy books that often anymore. I mostly get them from the library. But goodness me!

More on Hurricane Katrina

Okay, it seems worse than I thought it was. It's the worst hurricane in 100 years. But it's still not as bad as the hyperbole. Kathleen Blanco, the governor of Louisiana apparently said "This is a tragedy of great proportions, greater than any we've see in our lifetimes." However although it's been quoted all over the blogosphere, and rightly condemned, or at least pointed out as hyperbole, I could only find the quote in one news source, the Shreveport Times. Therefore I hope either the reporter caught the governor in an overwhelmed moment, or he misquoted her.

Tragedy, yes. I still feel really bad for the people affected. I was especially touched by the story Babies evacuated from the ICU, though I was annoyed that they added the bit on the end about looting. Is it looting or finding bread and soda?

I keep seeing these two photos captioned with a white male and a mixed race woman "finding bread and soda" and a black male "looting". The first time was from Jkfabiani. Even if the facts are true, the wording is dangerous.

And omg omg experts expect gas to be $4 a gallon And yes it's related to Hurricane Katrina...supposedly. IMO any excuse to gouge us at the pump. Even though the US pays the lowest at the pump.

Little T's eczema and GI and a flashback to May 25

In another case of nothing is ever simple with Little T, he has a horrid raging rash on his left arm, which is eczema. It's a lot worse, because the circulation there is very poor due to his tumour. Unfortunately the eczema's infected and crusted over, so he needs to ingest an antibiotic Keflex three times a day as well as have steroid cream rubbed on the rash. Amazingly he likes the taste of the Keflex syrup, so our nanny was able to just give it to him with no fuss.

His barium swallow study yesterday showed normal swallowing. So we're moving onto the next step to figure out why he's not eating, which is a PH study on September 12th. They stick a probe down his throat for 24 hours. It sounds very uncomfortable, but we really need some answers. He's advancing in every way except eating. He's been off chemo since June 8th, but his eating in the past couple weeks has been worse not better despite an increase in Prilosec. He throws up every morning. Maybe he has motility issues.

Whenever I would say I'm not happy, because we're not making any progress, she would get defensive. So I just switched to her attending doctor. I feel a little bad about it, but it's not because she's a PNP. I'm happy to see PNP in Hemo. It means that things are going well with Little T. I switched because Little T has made no progress in GI under her care and I find it difficult to get along with her. And I have since my first apt with her when she said he was "overfed" when he was not gaining weight at that time.

God, I first took him to GI on May 25. That was a lifetime ago in terms of his other issues. He was still on chemo. He could barely sit up. He had just started making noise. We were amazed he could use his right arm to yank things. You've come a long way, baby. Okay, I feel better now.

Special K is starting to potty train!

To me, potty training is when the child goes to the bathroom completely on their own. Special K's starting to do this. She went on her own several times yesterday and today. She even washes her hands. We're very proud.

Our use of soap and tp have both gone up dramatically -- a small price to pay. Our use of diapers have gone down dramatically. So all in all, a win for the planet.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

First printed submission ever

I sent off my children's picture book. It's the first time I've sent a submission via snail mail. I really love this book. Evidently so do other people. I got some great endorsements. I'm really excited about it. Now I just have to wait and wait and wait to hear back from the publisher. Please wish me luck. My submission "fills a void" "providing a real service to parents everywhere" but it will be in the dreaded slush pile, so I'll need it.

Email, Natural Gas

A Slate article on European mail vs. American mail I don't agree with the article. Though I agree that Europeans are much more likely to start an emai with "Dear".

Natural Gas Vehicle - It seems like a better solution than hydrogen fuel cells, because you still have to make the hydrogen from dirty fuel sources.

Kynn got this image from the LJ image feed
that literally pulls images from Live Journal.

Tempest brews over quotes on Starbucks cups.

I've never been a big fan of Starbucks, but it makes me want to go buy Starbucks right now. I left a commment at the Starbucks website. I encourage you to do the same.

Here's what I wrote

Thanks for your The Way I See It #43 quote from Armistead Maupin. I really enjoyed reading it. I support the free expression of ideas. I don't like the religious right's attempts to suppress ideas and try to get you to pull the cups. I put your cup on my blog and I told my friends about it. Free advertising for you. If you bow to pressure and pull the cups, I'll also blog about that and boycott Starbucks.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Death, Hurricane and Poetry on Demand

Plantgirl blogs :Does this seem bizarre to anyone else?": Judge orders force-feeding for convicted sniper

Not to me. Of course it's cheaper to put someone in prison for life than to pay all the court costs of putting them to death. But the death penalty isn't about cost. It's about revenge. And if the sniper starves himself to death, then no-one gets revenge.

I'm a bad blogger I suppose in that I haven't been following Hurricane Katrina until I read this breath of fresh air with all the wailing in the media I've been reading about the hurricane. (pardon the pun) I don't actually know anyone in New Orleans, so that's definitely part of it. If anyone reading this has been affected by Hurricane Katrina, my heart goes out to you and your family.

But I also thought those folks would all be okay and they were. Don't get me wrong. I really wouldn't want to be one of the thousands in the SuperDome waiting and wondering if my house was going to be okay. But I'd rather be one of them than one of the tsunami victims who had no warning and suffered terribly. Of course I'd rather be me. But my point isn't really about pain and suffering. It's more about how terribly self-absorbed most Americans are. Do you know there are people in Niger are starving? Okay it's a cliche to write about starving people. Still, people don't blog about that as often as it deserves. Neither did I until now. I'll try to provide more balanced coverage when I do blog about world events.

I thought this was an interesting idea: Poetry on Demand

I can hear Anne Lamott speak

I'm so excited I can hear Anne Lamott speak at the CAR Luncheon. A friend is on the Book Committe that chooses the speakers, so will get me a seat. I missed last year's because Little T was back in the hospital again. I really really really hope I can go this year. I'll be bouncing to my haircut just thinking about it.

Anne Lamott wrote Bird By Bird, which has been an inspiration to me as a writer. I have no idea why no-one shoved this book into my shaking hands when I expressed doubt in my writing ability, but consider this a virtual shoving. I wish I'd taken one of her classes at the UC Berkeley Extension. Ah, well.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Strange milestones

Little T just learned how to raspberry. He raspberries with great concentration and effort with a very serious expression. Then he grins hugely. It's really cute. He also said "bah" once for the first time yesterday. Perhaps the two are related. In any case, I think raspberries are a milestone. His OTs keep asking if he does them.

I told Special K a month or so ago that she must never go into someone's house or car unless Mummy or Daddy says it's okay, even if it's someone she knows. Today she told me that our nanny asked her if she would go with her to her friend's house and she said no. Now this may be the same incident that I talked to her and our nanny about a month ago. Special K's sense of time is a little strange. However it does mean that the lesson has stayed with her. I consider this her first lesson in personal safety. It's too bad I have to start teaching her so young.

For the first time since Little T was born, C is more than a hundred miles away and will be gone more than 24 hours. Definitely a milestone. He's at my brother's bachelor's weekend and will be back later today. So far so good.

And I'll end on a kid-related, but non-milestone related note: As soon as Special K falls asleep, Little T wakes up. How does he know? He's upstairs in his cot. She's downstairs sleeping on the couch.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

More drugs

I went to my neurologist on Friday and he suggested Topamax. He said my vertigo which seems to be increasing in frequency may actually be a symptom of migraines. I guess that makes sense. Topamax treats migraines and seizures. He said he wanted me to try the Haldol again later, but I'm not keen on it. Especially since he said that some of my jerking seems to be tics perhaps related to ADHD. I know that ADHD is not one of my problems. If anything, I sometimes get too absorbed in something. I tried Topamax for the first time last night. So far I didn't notice anything, but it's a ramp up dose. I take 25mg at night for two weeks, then ramp up to 50mg. Then I see him again in a month.

Harry Potter

A zillion bloggers have blogged about Harry Potter. I hope what I have to say is at least somewhat original since I was struck by the way motherhood was portrayed in this book. The rest of my remarks are in the comments to avoid spoilers for the few who still haven't read Harry Potter.

Friday, August 26, 2005

I love silly quizzes

Go here to see how I scored on 3 silly quizzes. Please feel free to respond with your own scores.

Wedding nerves and what is love

I just realised I'm much more nervous about being a bridesmaid at my brother's wedding than a bride at my own. I knew I was marrying the right guy, so the rest was gravy. I figured if I made a total idiot of myself at my wedding, at least I'd end up with C at the end of it.

We had a lovely wedding, even though apparently someone did try to ruin it by making a big fuss. However we didn't hear about it until afterwards and this person fortunately only seemed to affect those immediately around them.

It was one of the best days of my life. I was filled with joy. People blog all the time about love and sometimes it sounds so simple and it isn't really. But I do have one simple thing to say about love. To me, love means that occasionally if it's only for a moment, you honestly and truly believe the person is the most amazing being on earth and it's because they did something that lights you up. For me, one of those moments was my wedding day. But weddings are often like that. There have to be others. Another for me was when C truly laughed at my silly jokes when Little T was so sick.

Sometimes people mistake love for I think X is the most amazing being on earth, because I love X. That's not love. That's tautology. If you never feel that way about your SO, it's not love, it's desperation or low self-esteem or something else that keeps you with that person. These feelings of amazement are usually fleeting and they never last. But those moments keep me going in the bad times. IMO sheer will power won't do it alone if you never have the moments of joyful amazement. It's also not worth it. Making a marriage last is hard work. Why do it if not for joy?

Some folks who've been married for a long time say you need to be able to fall in love again. I think I'm saying the same thing.

Dalai Lama gives talk on meditation

Sayeth blogged about the controversy stirred by the fact that in the series entitled "Dialogues between Neuroscience and Society", the Dalai Lama will give a talk on "The Neuroscience of Meditation". (See program guide description)

In response I wrote:
It sounds silly to me since a talk on meditation is not "advancing religious beliefs." I'm sure some of the other speakers giving talks are devout followers of various faiths. I see nothing wrong with say a devout Christian giving a talk on say brain aging as long as they confine the talk to brain aging. Even if their interest in aging stems from their spiritual beliefs.

Bing to job ping

I essentially turned down the job ping by saying that I was only interested in part-time work. I thought about it for a day or two. We don't see a way for both C and I to work full-time and do all the things that need to be done for Little T. He has OT every week, which I could ask our nanny to take him to, but then he has other apts like his modified barium swallow, which take hours and he really needs a parent there. C wouldn't be happy working part-time. I'm not sure I would either, but that's another topic.

But the main reason boils down to I really want to give writing a shot and I definitely can't seriously write, work full-time and look after my family. It's one thing not to look for a job to write. It's a big deal to not pursue a job ping that comes out of the blue. I feel I made the right decision, but I'm quite scared. Actually I'm terrified. All my life I've been sensible about money. At age 25, I bought my first house on my own in the bay area, because I'd saved enough. Sure I've worked for several startups, but I always got a paycheck.

I wrote this is the first time I'm consciously choosing not to get a paycheck. That's not actually true. I was a computer consultant out in Philly and had a growing list of clients. In Dec '93 I left all that. I drove out to the bay area with no job to move in with housemates I'd met only over the Internet. It was one of the best decisions of my life. Then as now, I had this feeling that things would work out fine mixed with the sheer terror and exhilaration of leaping off a cliff. Breathe in. Breathe out. Please wish me luck.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Biography: Chapter 5 - I’m sent off to boarding school

The continuing saga of Thida, which I'd typed up for a bboard a year or so ago. Please let me know if you like it. If you hate it, well I'll interpret silence as no-one wants to read about my past.

At age 8, my parents decided to send me off to West Downs the boys’ boarding school run by my grandparents. I loved the academics, because it had a well-deserved good reputation and you moved up in the classes according to how well you do on the exams rather than by age. I loathed everything else about it. I missed my family terribly. It was cold and draughty. I was one of only 10 girls in a school of 200. And most of the kids hated me on sight, because I was the headmaster’s grand-daughter. Two of my cousins were also there, but they had started before me and they stuck together. I think they knew I wasn’t going to be there for the long-term. They also weren’t nerds and were good at sports, so they fit in better.

But I did have one friend named Victoria Morse. She was a fellow nerd. I lost contact with her, but I still think fondly of her. Hey, it's interconnected world out there, so I'll give it a shot. If anyone for some reason knows a Victoria Morse in England, please tell her to contact me.

My parents decided to move to California and while they were getting things sorted out, for a couple months they moved into the flat where my grandparents lived at West Downs. We weren’t allowed to see each other any more often than other families, which was once a week on the weekends. Then my parents took a cross-country trip across the US for a couple months. They took my brother and sister and left me behind at West Downs. My brother really really missed me and began every postcard with “Dear Thida, I miss you a lot.” I think the only good thing I can really say about that year and a half is that I gained a new appreciation of my brother.

So at age 9 and 9 months, I went from West Downs to 6th grade at a Catholic school in Davis California called St. James. I suffered massive culture shock. I thought boys were for kicking not kissing.

Silence may be golden

Sorry for the silence. Been working on my writing, specifically my children's book. I got comments that I will put on the jacket cover of the book when it's published. Woo hoo! I say when optimistically, of course. It's almost ready, but I had to buy labels and 9x12 envelopes and format the manuscript, etc. Formatting always takes far more time than you think it should.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Brain overload

I had a friend in college who used to say "Stop the world! I want to get off!" I don't exactly feel that way, but my brain is definitely overloaded.

I just forgot one of Little's T apts. He has a lot of apts, but forgetting one totally is a first for me. I've had some near misses when I remembered minutes before the apt, but never total amnesia before. I'm quite embarassed. I also recognise in some way my brain is overloaded with info, so some of it fell out. Most of them are really good things, but I have a background anxiety that I could get personal bad news. Little T's relapse happened just after we had a joyous Xmas.

So here's a partial brain dump of what's on my mind:

  • Potty training Special K - I have a background process, as a geeky ex-boyfriend would say, that tracks when Special K last peed, so we can avoid accidents. Though lately she asks "Can I have a diaper?" I put her on the potty and she performs.

  • My brother's wedding on Labour Day - I'm a bridesmaid. I've never been a bridesmaid before. I've never had a good female friend get married with bridesmaids who are friends. I tend to make friends with either folks who are already married, have tons of sisters, or she and/or her SO aren't the marrying kind. I'm worried I'll forget something or somehow inadvertently offend someone.

    My dad called me many times over the past couple days about his wedding speech. I did give it some thought since my dad gave a wonderful speech at my wedding. But all I could think of was "Don't say anything embarrassing. Say nice specific things and anecedotes about my brother and his fiancee and what they bring to each other." C had a much better tip "Tell how [the fiancee] became part of the family."

  • My children's book - Things are really coming along and I'm really excited about it and the responses I've been getting. But I got a comment that led me to revise it a tiny bit again. So I need to think about it again. I'm almost ready to submit it.

  • Little T's eating - He should get more food in him over a longer period of time. He's okay for now, but he's getting bigger and therefore needs more food and we've reached the limit of what he can tolerate at night. So today I started giving him bolus feeds while he sleeps during the day. It's not yet a habit, so I need to keep thinking about it.

  • Little T's yeast infection on his arm - I need to track how often it's aired v.s. wrapped.

  • My finger - My left ring finger's still in a splint from when I thwacked it against myself. I can't really write. I also need to remember not to wash my entire left hand, but instead the non-splinted fingers. I do go to the doctor and the doctor said I bruised the bone, but to get an x-ray just in case. The x-ray was normal.

  • Job ping - Out of the blue, I got a job ping that might interest me. I have a phone interview on Friday. It raises all sorts of questions I don't know how to answer yet. We'll see how it goes.

  • SEP aka Someone Else's Problems - A few of my friends have serious problems right now. Unfortunately there's not a lot I can do for any of them, but they percolate in the back of my mind.

Big gay rights news

Big Gay Rights news that I learned from Owl's moose's LJ.
SF Gate has the headline
Court grants equal rights to same-sex parents
I think that's great news for the kids of same-sex parents.

OTOH Owlmoose points out there are 3 anti-gay initiatives on the special election ballot.

I hope the court ruling won't provoke a backlash and get folks to vote for these initiatives.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Little T's tumour is still shrinking!

Okay, maybe this isn't news to you, but it's news to us. Little T's arm has grown slowly from 15cm to 19cm and in the past couple weeks, his arm developed an angry red rash. Last night C and I had a difficult conversation in which we prepared for the worst. Fortunately his hemo doctor says the rash is a yeast infection and the growth of his arm is real growth -- he has a noticeable bicep now. Woo hoo!

Despite my fears, he's still gaining weight. He's now 8080 grams, but he hasn't grown since his GI apt on Aug 5, because he's still 66cm long. However his head is still above the 50th percentile at 46cm. Grow head grow! May I also say that my son has enormous ears which in Burma are a sign of great intelligence. His hemo doctor said "He looks particularly cute". She mentioned the lack of an NG tube. I said dryly, "Yes, I suppose the tube did rather detract from his appearance." and we all laughed.

We met yet another resident. They always say they remember Little T from some particular hospital stay, but I never remember them. Well I'll probably remember that poor resident in her first week when Little T had line sepsis for the rest of my life. But no-one before and since has said to me "Wait, I need to write this down first." after they walk up to me. The other residents all seem eager and sometimes little intimidated by Little T's huge medical records, but reasonably polished and always polite. This one spotted that my doctor is still listed somewhere as Little T's doctor. My doctor is an adult doctor and when I saw him last week, he said he's still getting info about Little T. Now I know at least one reason why.

For the first time, a lab tech drew Little T's blood with one stick. He dug around some, but still. Next time we'll ask for Sean and use numbing cream first.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Biography - Chapter 4 - We go camping in a VW bug

I wrote part of my bio for a bboard last year and I lost chapters 1-3, so here's chapter 4. You'll get the rest eventually.

This was of course back in the days before car seats. My dad owned a VW bug. My mum didn’t drive. All 5 of us, my parents, brother and sister would go camping in that car. My sister was in a carrier cot or small bassinet in the back and my brother and I would squeeze in next to it. We’d take the ferry over from Dover to France and camp in farmers’ fields.

One time my parents started looking for a site a little late. As it was getting dark and starting to rain, they found an actual fee-paying camp-site. There was only spot left. What we didn’t do know was that it was the only spot left, because it was on top of a dry stream bed. My parents pitched the tent as it began to rain harder.

My parents had two camp cots and we normally slept on the floor, but water started streaming into the tent. Suitcases started floating in the water. We were all starving, so my mother had to stand in the tent in the stream cooking on a camp stove while the rest of us piled into the car. She made Beef Bourguignon with local French red wine. I can still remember the wonderful smell mixed with the smell of rain and the sound of the rain sloshing against the car. My brother and I slept that night in the camp cots, which were fortunately just above the water level and my parents kinda slept in the VW bug. We thought it was a great adventure.

Giving to charity

Mary Anne asked in her blog how you decide how to give to charity. So I decided to answer the question here.

C and I take a rough look at our finances and see if we have any leftover to give. Lately we've been giving less, because although currently our insurance pays Little T's medical and therapy bills without too much hassle, sometimes we do get denied for the odd thing. This may continue as he gets older, so we need to make sure we have enough saved for his needs.

In general I prefer charities that empower people to help themselves such as through microloans or better health care or preserving their environment. Then I look over their finances. Unless it's a microloan charity (microloans are expensive to distribute) I want less than 15% to go to fundraising costs and another 10% to admin costs. I look at Charity Watch and Charity Navigator which both monitor charities' finances. Charity Watch just provides a top-rated list online while Charity Navigator provides rating for every charity. Unfortunately Charity Navigator's rating system seems somewhat broken if the charity's revenue or expenses decreases although their raw stats are great. I also support museums and the SF opera. See below.

  • Freedom From Hunger - They give microloans primarily to women. They also provide basic education to women to help them start their own business. It's top rated by Charity Watch

  • Nature Conservancy - They buy land to prevent it from being developed and work with developers to save land. IMO working with businesses is one of the best ways to save the environment if it's done properly. Their finances always seem to be in excellent shape.

  • Planned Parenthood Mar Monte - When C and I first started dating, I wanted him to get STD tested just to be on the safe side. PP was the only place he could go with no insurance. They tested him, and asked for no money in return. Free health clinics are one of the best ways to help improve sexual health. Planned Parenthood Mar Monte is an affiliate of the national charity Planned Parenthood Federation of America, which I accidentally gave money to once. Unfortunately the PPFA president is #24 in terms of total compensation earning over $500k, so I should probably look elsewhere for a good national health clinic charity

  • Sierra Club - One of the few truly grassroots environmental organizations. Highly rated

  • Doctors Without Borders -Also highly rated by Charity Watch. I used to give to Oxfam, but it's lower rated and I've realised that I'd rather give medical aid than food to someone.

  • Bryn Mawr College - My alma mater. I'm impressed with how many students there are the first ones in their families to go to college. Getting a good education is one of the best ways to help someone out of poverty.

  • Various museums and the SF opera - None of them are important in general, but I do feel that if I go to a museum or artistic venue regularly then I should support them with membership.


I just passed a blog rite of passage. I just got my first spam comment. Of course I deleted it. My friends Jed and Mary Anne's blogs get spam all the time, but they both have many more readers than me. The spammer found my blog somehow. It's the first and perhaps only time spam has made me feel a little better known. Though I also reported the spammer to since they were a registered user. But now I've got my first spam, I hope to see no more again. Yeah, right.

Maimed salamander

Yesterday my husband C mowed the lawn with a push mower and accidentally maimed a salamander. I guess C mows the lawn so rarely that the salamander didn't run away and its face got sliced by the blades. He put it in a jar with some water, rocks and grass and it hung out with us. It's probably an arboreal salamander "Aneides Lugubris". It was bleeding for a while, then it stopped and moved around a little. I'm not sure how long it'll survive with only one eye and half a mouth, but this morning C will release to a friend's house that has a pond and no grass to mow. Good luck and long life to you, little salamander.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Potty training my Sims child

I've recently realised that potty training my daughter Special K is pretty much like playing the Sims. In that game, you can turn off basic bodily functions, and watch their bladder get full. If it gets too full, then the Sim pees on the floor and is embarrassed. Special K works in much the same way. She doesn't have a bladder indicator above her head, but she crosses her legs, leans against something and behaves in much the same way as the Sims characters do. Occasionally she does go to the bathroom on her own, but rarely.

I kept hoping she'd just get it and potty train herself, but she really doesn't seem to have much internal incentive to do it. Well, she did in January, because her friend Sylvia was potty training, but then Little T had his relapse and went back to the hospital, so she understandably said forget it. All her friends except one are potty trained and this particular friend Sam is a good friend, but he doesn't have the same keep-up-with-him sway that Sylvia does.

And I'm so sick of diapers. So is Special K, because she complains every time I change her diaper. It's a little stressful watching my sim child's bladder and cleaning up messes if I fail. But changing her diaper is even more stressful. It's big and messy and invariably Little T starts to wail. I have to persuade her to get her diaper changed, or go to the potty, so the amount of time to get her prepared is about the same. And I have more latitude as to when to put her on the potty, it takes less time than changing a diaper, and I can entertain Little T a little more at the same time. She's also very pleased and proud when she does succeed, and that's what keeps us going.


My friend owlmoose blogged about our tea tasting yesterday. I really love drinking tea. In the US, some folks sit down to relax with a beer or glass of wine, I sit down with a nice cup of tea. I've discussed most important conversations with my relatives over tea. I can't help it. Both the Burmese and English sides combine to view tea in pretty much the same way. I'm privileged to have friends who do. It's lovely.

My husband C. doesn't really get it. Sure he drinks tea with every morning, but he says it's because he can't be fished to make coffee as well. Coffee is a different beverage. Nothing wrong with it, but few describe coffee as relaxing.

In France, the tea houses were ferments of dissident views. The Americans used to get it. They rioted over tea in the Boston Tea party. I just read that Emma Larkin in her book Finding George Orwell in Burma saw spies listening in Burmese tea houses. I'm no Burmese dissident, but...well this is a public site, which anyone can read, so draw your own conclusions.

Friday, August 19, 2005

It's all about me and LJ

There's a LJ meme going around where you answer random questions about another LJ users, so plantgirl did an entire section about me. It made me laugh out loud. I hope it at least amuses you.

Therefore I did my own one. Some of the answers had people already in another question, so I randomly picked someone else who reads my blog.

1. Go here.
2. Pass it on.

1.~How did you meet Jenny? On the floor of Liz's apt with Special K.
2.~What would you do if you had never met evilhat? I'd have never gone to Excite@Home.
3.~What do you honestly think of Sarah? She's really sweet and a lot more social than she thinks she is.
4.~Would or did jk_fabiani and kynn go out? Not unless John is bi.
5.~Have you ever liked lordjulius? Yes, as a friend.
6.~Would Dee and gconnor make a good couple? Yes, if they weren't already monagmously married to other people.
7.~Describe solomita in 3 words: New Yorker, gregarious, friendly
8.~What do you think of when you see kynn? Politics
9.~Would lordjulius and tavella make a good couple? Sure, why not?
10.~Who do you think Jed would be great with from this list? I already did that one.
11.~When was the last time you talked to freyafire? I talk to myself all the time.
12~Is plantgirl single? Yes and available. Check her out! ;)
13.~How did you meet Mary Anne? Through my exboyfriend Cliff. They were roommates.
14.~Is ivpiter the sexiest person alive? No, that would be my husband.

Fantasy, reality, and more links

Yesterday Special K really wanted to go the park outside the library and play. She called it "doing a show". She jumped from one metal lilypad to another. Metal sculptures from Wind In The Willows stand outside the library including a pond. I watched for a while, then Little T started to get bored and fuss. So I told Special K we had to go unless she could entertain him. So she started to talk to him and he watched her for another 10 minutes.

Meanwhile a lady sat near us talking into thin air. Now sometimes when people do this, they're actually talking to a real invisible person on a cell phone. She had long black hair, so at first I wasn't sure. Then I saw she wasn't wearing a headpiece. I entertained the idea she was talking to a real invisible person who was actually there. Then I noticed that there were no gaps in her conversation for another person to talk. She kept up a running monologue for a good 20 minutes. I didn't exactly eavesdrop, but she was very emphatic about the UN and some sort of plan she was explaining. She held up a spiral bound notebook literally full of scribbles, not writing, but curling scribbles like writing is shown in comics. She was reasonably dressed in jeans and a shirt. She didn't smell and she spoke very earnestly. She must feel terribly important. I feel terribly important to my immediate family, but not to the UN. I wonder whether she feels her imaginary life is better.

Interestingly Special K utterly ignored her. Usually she comments on unusual people and they talk to me or her about her comments. Perhaps she sensed this woman's utter self-absorption.

I just saw "The Purple Rose of Cairo" last night in which the real and imaginary are juxtaposed. And the night before I saw "Bridget Jones: Beyond the Edge of Reason". The director describes Bridget Jones as "a fantasist". She's also a pessimist. I'm definitely an optimist, and a realist. I always hope people will behave their best and things will turn out fine in the end, but I do tend to see things as they are, not as I want them to be. However I enjoyed Bridget Jones and found Purple Rose quite depressing. The characters in the former change for the better while those in the latter never do. And I do believe people can and do change for the better. Not always, but it's possible. I have in some ways.

And here are two somewhat related links:

From Tritone's LJ, Spot the Fake smile - I got 19 out of 20 right, because I knew what to look for. So that at least provides a credential for my statement that I'm a realist.

From a link from Zed's blog, Drug Dealers vs. Coders. - This made me smile. And drugs and code can create a fantasy world for the user.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

I pine for dumb date movies

Today I feel a bit better, though it's been a long day. At one point I was cleaning up a large puddle of Special K's pee while Little T screamed at me to try and get me to pick him up.

In between screaming and cleaning, when both kids were sleeping, I managed to fix my email which was broken for a few days. That made me feel a bit better. I had too many messages in my inbox and a possible corrupted header. I remember I used to have this problem all the time with Mozilla, but I thought Thunderbird had fixed it. Thunderbird !=Pine. I was using pine for a couple days. I pine for Pine, but pine doesn't handle images or links as well as Thunderbird. OTOH my Pine inbox always overflowed w/thousands of messages and Pine never complained. Pine is like the boring reliable boyfriend in date movies. You know you're supposed to do better, but it's safe and comfortable. C uses Pine. What does that say about him? Hrm. ;)

Yes, I watched a dumb date movie, The Wedding Planner, w/C. C swears he saw it before w/me, but I remembered none of it and C didn't remember the end, so we both enjoyed it. It'd be nice if all my problems could be solved like in a date movie, but OTOH my life's far more interesting.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


I've been feeling this sadness for the past couple days. I woke up last night with this sad weight on my chest. Maybe it's partly hormones. I'm having my period right now. Or the fact that I went on a hike last night. Part of it was going to my hs reunion and not talking about Little T at all. It was a conscious decision. It's not something that I want to share with people I'll prolly not see again for years. But perhaps the unsaid words pressed down on me.

Maybe it was that during the hike we shared memories of the past 3 years to celebrate Jenny's birthday. And unfortunately my most clear memories are of the past year and many of them are bittersweet. I should be saying it was a lovely party in which we hiked up a hill, watched the sunset and chatted. We got a bit lost on the way down and were back way after closing time, but the ranger waited around for us, and only ticketed one of our cars. And the party wasn't about me. And I did feel happy for Jenny, but the party also forcibly reminded me that the past year has been very difficult.

Maybe it's just that now I have the luxury of feeling sad. Little T's slowly getting better. We're starting to think about vacations now that we've managed a weekend away. I guess it's a pattern. I just can't feel sad when things are going badly, it detracts from what I need to do. So I feel sad later. I'm trying to remember that and just let myself feel sad instead of telling myself I should be writing or doing other useful things. And then I read back in my blog that the last time I felt really sad was July 1. I guess it's okay to feel sad, because Little T still doesn't eat and has some kind of swallowing problem, not to mention his non-functional arm. It's still a long road to get to healthy. Maybe we'll never get there. I never had a dream I'd have a normal child, but healthy yes. Doesn't every parent? I'll give myself a few days. Thanks for reading.

High Reunion and Acme Dinner Saturday night

On Saturday night, my husband C and I first went to the 25th anniversary of Acme Theatre Company from my hs. I met some old friends and had a great time. Most were married and had kids and had returned to Davis. It's called "returning home to spawn." Elizabeth is now a freelance writer with her husband and call themselves Write The First Time. Anton lives on a horse ranch nearby and still welds. Sarah is a systems engineer.

Analisa is an energy state government official and showed us the prototype of a fuel cell car which she finangled. She drove it around for the weekend, then it'll go to the people in her department then to politicians. C said seeing her car was the highlight of the weekend and it was really cool.

Analisa met us at the high school reunion and we wandered around. Unfortunately apart from Malcolm Young whom I'd met earlier, I didn't see anyone I was actually friends with in hs, except Cheryl Washino whom I was friends with at the beginning of hs, but then we drifted apart. I talked to her for a bit. She was still really nice, but I ran out of things to say.

I met some classmates at St. James Catholic school where I went for grades 6-9. I had nice chats with all of them. Nothing earthshattering. One woman said something about how I wrote this great book report and the class liked it so much that they asked me to read it again. I don't remember it all. In fact I wouldn't have remembered her or the fact that she was at St. James if she hadn't reminded me. I was a total nerd and social outcast at St. James. I was 1 of 10 girls and the rest all glommed together. They're just a mass in my mind, not even real people now since I assume they've grown up now and know better. That's not to say that everyone from that era isn't real, just the people who were only mean to me and nothing else.

I did have one weird interaction with someone I vaguely recognised who turned away from me while I was in the same group. I think she must have been one of the folks in hs who thought I was stupid, because I have a movement disorder. I remembered that contingent when she did it. I was disappointed, because my 10 year reunion was unmarred by such incidents. I thought I remember her name, but when I looked in the yearbook, there was no such name.

The main theme for me was that pretty much everyone ends up at the same place. In hs I was still pretty shy and learning social skills. But I always knew that I'd grow up and life would get better.

And the highlight of my evening was dancing with C. We haven't danced just the two of us in a while.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Delightful meme from plantgirl

If you are so motivated, please list three things that delight you. These may very well seem trivial to others. matter of fact, i think the more particular they are to you, the better and if you're curious about other people, you may want to gently suggest that they do the same.

Little T's laugh
Getting a big hug and kiss from Special K
Dancing with C

Please spread joyfully.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Relative Silence and Random links

Sorry for the relative silence. My finger's been bothering me. I went to the doctor and got a metal splint, which makes it difficult to type. I also got an x-ray of my hand. No results yet.

I've been uploading a lot of photos from the past two months. Here are some of my hs reunion.

Perhaps related to hs for some, here's Consumer Reports rating of condoms. Ironically CR "rated one model that Planned Parenthood distributes at its clinics as poor because its strength was so low compared with the rest."

You are Slackware Linux. You are the brightest among your peers, but are often mistaken as insane.  Your elegant solutions to problems often take a little longer, but require much less effort to complete.
Which OS are You?

20-year high school reunion - Friday night & Sat morning

My kids, my husband C and I all drove to Davis Friday night for my 20-year high school reunion and Acme 25th anniversary dinner. Poor C had to drive in rush hour traffic most of the way, because we didn't leave until 5pm. He's a good husband. We ate some bread and cheese with my parents. We always eat a lot there. Then we left the kids with my parents and went to the first hs reunion event at a local bar.

To me, bars seem optimally bad places to meet people you don't know. The lighting is dim, so it's hard to see, and once you do see someone, it's hard to hear them. So I failed to recognize anyone and the people I talked to didn't recognize me or actually know me in hs. Still, I was amused to hear from the guy who said "I was in the wrestling club, but now I'm an environmental lawyer." Then I saw this woman smile and I recognized her smile. She has a smile that lights up her entire face. Her smile brightened my French class along with my friend Naomi. It turned out she was one of the reunion organizers. We reminisced about French class. Madame Stevens couldn't pronounce my name, so she called me Mathilde, which I hated. She was French and therefore never appreciated the difficulties we had in learning French.

The next hs event was Saturday morning meeting at the farmers market, except there was no meeting place and I failed to recognise anyone again. Meanwhile my daughter Special K had a blast on the carousel which a volunteer powers by pedaling. Then she rushed off to the playground. Finally C overheard some folks talking about hs reunion. I introduced myself, then met someone I shared a class with in hs and asked her who else was there. She pointed out a friend from junior high. I'd walked right by him and utterly failed to recognise him. We had a nice chat and learned we live in the same town, so we'll probably meet later. I also saw his parents who still live in town. My parents and his parents were friends, but lost touch, so perhaps they'll reconnect again as well.

I also saw the hs friend that I mentioned in this blog entry. She's not in my class and said she wasn't going to be in Davis, so it was fun to run into her again.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Talking about tumours

One of the social horrors about having a seriously ill child is that I'm forced to shock well-meaning people, because I don't like to lie, and won't in front of my daughter, and they aren't listening properly, so they breeze by the warning signs that no, we're not talking about a simple malady here. I'm getting better at putting up warning signs. I've always used the word tumour, but now I've learned to use fewer words surrounding it. It seems to work better.

In talking about dealing with Little T, I tend to minimize the experience. I just don't want to relive the horror, or worse see horror in other people's faces.

It's one of the few things I prefer writing to talking about. It's easier to give the details just once. I do want people to know, but often I just don't want to talk about it. This is not a request to stop asking me about Little T. I like to know you care about me and Little T, but rather a thank you to those friends who do keep up with my journal and let me know by asking a specific question about it, so I know you're at least somewhat prepared for the answer.

This was all prompted by a question another blogger asked
"how does [blogging] alter how you present yourself? When you're writing, are there things you're aware of omitting, characteristics or traits that you exaggerate or minimize? What is the first difference I'd notice if I were speaking to you face to face? In what ways is your written voice truly you?"
Please answer the question yourself here.

Here's my answer:
To me, writing and speaking are fundamentally different. In person, I tend to meander back and forth. I'll pick up the thread of another topic and then perhaps wander back to it later. In coming back to the topic, I can repeat myself before moving to the next idea. My writing is a craft that I work on everyday. In my writing I like my words to flow together and similar ideas to be wrapped together in tidy paragraphs. I take time to reflect on what I write and edit it for clarity and cogency. And there you go. The first nouns that came to mind were meaning and understandability. And that's what you'd have heard in person, but I thought about it, and clarity and cogency are closer to what I actually mean, and are alliterative too.

In person, I tend to start a conversation by asking the other person some question about themselves. In person, my anecedotes tend to be related to anecedotes already told, or in response to a direct question. I have the British fear of being a bore, so I'd rather say a little and see if the person wants to know more. In my writing, it's Thida monologue all the time.

In person, I try to talk about things that the other person would find interesting. In my blog, I just write whatever I think someone might find interesting, though each blog entry does have a particular focus. I edit it a little, then put it up there.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Old friends and shopping

I met a friend from hs. We hadn't seen each other in a while, but we slipped back into things like old friends sometimes can. It was lovely.

I went shopping w/Sarah. After hours and hours of searching we found a top, skirt, cardigan and shoes for me to wear to my hs reunion. Hooray! And thanks to Sarah! I've known Sarah since Dec '93. She's a pretty old friend too, but young at heart. More tomorrow on my life. Goodnight.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Little T's g-tube, Clothes Shopping & Stress

I got stressed out today, because

Little T had granulation tissue from his g-tube, but at first we couldn't figure out what it was.

Little T cried a lot and refused to be put down for hours from all the poking about from us figuring things out

My sister sent me an email that the top for our bridesmaids' costumes for my brother's wedding is on sale and therefore going out of stock quickly. The web site claimed that a nearby store had it, but when I called, they said they didn't. I'm between sizes, so I need to try two sizes on to see which one fits. Stress stress.

I realised I don't have a dress to wear for my hs reunion this weekend. C said "You have opera clothes." Yes, but these are a) for San Francisco and b) too formal for a hs reunion dinner. More panic and stress.

Clothes shopping stresses me out, because it's never clear that throwing more money, or more time at the problem will achieve the desired result, a me that looks good. I'm 5'8" and have an hourglass figure. Well, okay, I used to have an hourglass figure before two kids. Now I have a figure that looks great in the right clothes, but in the wrong clothes, I look fat, and worse pregnant. Not that being pregnant is so bad, but it's highly embarrassing for both of you if someone says you are and you're not. Most clothes are designed for shorter women, or fatter women, or unreal women like Barbie. I'm not tall enough for "tall women clothing".

So I go shopping in the vain hope I can find something that fits and I like. I wish I knew how to accomplish, except by going to stores and trying things on. I wish there was some sort of Amazon thing for clothes "If you liked this dress, here's another dress you may like." IMO clothes are still in the preInternet era. Some marketing guru figures that women love to shop. Maybe some other women. Not me. If you hate to shop for clothes too, shout it out, sister! Fundamentally, to me, clothes shopping is flailing in the dark. I hate that.

It's stressful. Here's how I react to stress. First my heart starts pounding and my breathing quickens. Then I get a headache. Then my stomach starts to hurt and finally if I get stressed enough, I feel light-headed and nauseated. Under extreme cases, I simply shut down. This is different from remaining calm. I'm far from calm. I'm a soda pop bottle. If you can get me to open up, I fizz all over the place. It's messy and inchoate and quite ineffectual. With C, I don't shut down, I just start yelling at him. Needless to say, he doesn't appreciate it. This time I didn't yell. I just fizzled for a bit until C got me to calm down and decide what to do.

C called the nurse who said that the cream I got from Little T's last GI apt should suffice.

I ordered the two sizes online. I have to pay $10 in shipping, and I have to return the one that doesn't fit, but at least in that case, throwing more $$ and time at the problem seems to have solved it.

At C's suggestion, I called a friend to go shopping with tomorrow. I still may not find a dress, but at least I get to spend time with a friend.

My movement disorder worsens under stress, but a friend from hs commented that it was a lot better when she saw me after an absence of several years. I no longer try to control the amount of stress I experience. After Little T was born, that was impossible anyway. I try to control my actions and take better care of myself.

When I gave birth, waves of pain cascaded over me and sometimes I thought I couldn't handle it, then I'd start to panic and everything would get worse. I learned to try to remain calm and just ride the wave, because eventually it would pass. For me, the feeling that this moment of intense pain will never end is the worse. But all things in life pass. So if I know what I'm supposed to do, I usually remain relatively calm under intense situations or crises. It's when I don't know what to do that I freak out. Fortunately as I get older, I encounter more situations and learn better what to do in each. Or at least I have C to calm me down while I figure things out. I love that man.

Monday, August 08, 2005

My take on disabled people having kids on a good day

Today was a relatively good day, albeit not a very productive one. I took Special K and Little T to gymnastics. Little T and I watched while Special K mostly did the right thing. She seems to have a hard time listening to the teacher. I think there's too many other distractions like other classes and interesting equipment. In her evaluation last week, she received a few hearts showing she has learned a few things, but no heart by "listens and follows directions." But most of the time she listens and follows my directions.

And today is what I wrote answering the question "Should disabled people have children?"

I have two children ages 3 and 11 months. My movement disorder makes certain things more difficult especially since my younger one has feeding issues related to the aftereffects of chemo for his massive lifethreatening tumour.

I'm a good mom. My kids are both happy and reasonably well adjusted. Being a mom is so much more than being able to provide for them physically. At 3, my daughter can already do some physical things better than I can and she needs less and less physical care though she'll need me to drive her places until she turns 16.

I really wanted to have kids, so somehow I've coped. A lot of able-bodied people find having children difficult. In some ways I have an advantage, because I never expected it to be easy. Everyone has their limitations. For some, those limitations whether physical or mental may mean they shouldn't have kids. However I don't think having a disability, or a bad temper, or whatever your issue is, in and of itself should prevent you from having a child. I think the real questions for any potential parent are
"Are you willing to do whatever it takes to put your child/ren's needs first?" Some parents confuse needs with desires. I mean needs.
"Are you willing to change your entire life so your child/ren can thrive despite your limitations?"

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Little T's progress: Month 10.5

I realised I tend to post mostly about Little T's medical issues and his personality, but he has milestones like any other baby. Perhaps bound by my own internalised ableism, I didn't post them, because they're not as advanced as for a baby his age, but I just read an OT report written back in May and most of the goals that were written there, he's already accomplished. Why not write regularly about his progress? Then we all can look back and see how far he's come.

His greatest trick and the one he, C and I are most proud of is he can now stand for about a minute if he's leaning against a table with both arms.

He holds onto his left hand with his right hand, lifts up his left arm and uses it to get better leverage when rolling. He can roll both ways.

He can sit up with a straight back for about 10 minutes.

He can lean forward on his stomach and come back most of the time.

He bangs anything and everything with his right hand with a loud noise and a big grin.

He's started to experiment with the pincer grasp.

He shrugs his left shoulder a lot more.

He can chew a baby biscuit, goldfish or cheerios into a mash that he could swallow. Half the time he swallows it and sometimes spits up. Half the time he spits it out.

He says a-gah and gah like they're protowords.

He can play peekabo. Most of the time he actually hides his entire face when he plays.

He can make jokes.

GI apt & Weekend

On Saturday I gave in my Haldol prescription, but as often happens when I build myself up to do something, the universe had a little laugh at my expense. The neurologist wrote a dosage that "doesn't exist" according to the pharmacist. He wrote it for .25mg and the smallest dosage is .5mg. I'm not sure whether to worry about the pharmacist or the neurologist since this is my first time going to either. In hindsight perhaps this was a bad idea, though Longs Drugs is a big chain.

Afterwards we drove to C's company picnic, which featured delicious ribs. For some reason, lately, I can't get enough of ribs. Dunno why. C suggested I might have an iron defiency, which I can believe after supplying Little T my little vampire baby in utero. He's 10.5 months now, but I haven't exactly had time to eat that well. Guess I'll have to take a multi-vitamin.

Little T did his best to look hale and hearty. He's a chubby baby. Force feeding via tube will do that to you, I guess. At his GI apt, his weight gain was almost a hockey stick with his height growth not too far behind. He really wants to get on that 3rd percentile. He's still below the growth charts for now.

Special K ran around and had such a great time she didn't want to go home.

Later we drove to SF to visit some college friends of C. We had mai-tais and saw photos of their Hawaii trip. Today we went to visit one of my college friends and see her new puppy. Our social life is starting to approach something more normal, though we still can't go anywhere more than a two hour drive. That brings me to my next post.

Playlist Shuffle Meme redux

I updated my playlist shuffle meme since I felt like I let owlmoose and luvmoose down by not continuing the game. I'm at step 4 now where I post the second lines. Hope you enjoy it!

Little T's first joke

Little T now makes a joke. He thinks he's hilarious, because he laughs and laughs at his own joke. He tries to put his binky in Daddy's mouth. Tonight he tried with me too.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

So maybe I was wrong

I wrote previously that I was anti Blogging Marathon. I changed my mind...a little. Shadesong is blogging for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society in honor of a LJ person who died from the disease. I think it's fitting to have a blogathon in that particular case. Perhaps there are others that I don't know about.

Yoga causes increased violence

Yoga Stirs Temper in Norway Prison. Yoga also makes me angry. When I try to hold the positions, my upper body sometimes jerks and I hurt myself.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

I have a disability. Should I experiment with drugs?

You may say, well duh, it says right there in your blog description that you have a movement disorder. However for me this is a new act, a coming out, if you will. I have a rare esoteric movement disorder, myoclonic dystonia. My head, arms and hands jerk randomly sometimes when I perform small motor activity.

For a long time I felt like I didn't have a right to "complain" ie talk about my disability when others had it a lot worse. Thing is that all my life people have assumed I'm retarded, because I have myoclonic dystonia. Sometimes they treated me badly, and sometimes they treated me like a child. And I didn't really get it until my husband C explained this to me one day a waiter totally ignored me and insisted on getting our order from him. Before that I had unconsciously internalised that I was stupid on some level. Now recognizing this I just feel a lot more free to stand up and say I have a disability. Or rather jerk, and say I have a movement disorder.

For the most part myoclonic dystonia does fall into the "bothersome" as my neurologist puts it, and annoying and never life-threatening. It is at times painful when I whack myself and the way I drive is slowly destroying my wrists. I lock my wrists and grip the wheel far too tightly for no good reason other than conditioning. I have had the usual share of fender bender and minor accidents, but they were all due to my inattention; no accident in 20+ years of driving due to my movement disorder. And it's not because of my wrists.

I want to say myoclonic dystonia is not life-altering, but that isn't true. At one point I considered becoming a doctor, and took a bunch of premed classes. But I didn't because with my disability, it was too high a barrier and I didn't want to become a doctor enough to overcome it. But until I got all this straight in my own head, I had this idea that disabled people were blind or were in wheelchairs. I was half disabled if you will. Like I'm half Burmese.

But the driving thing is changing my life. I can't drive farther than 10 miles at the moment, because my wrists just can't take the abuse. So I'm willing to try drugs again. For the first time in three years, I visited a neurologist last Wednesday. I've been putting off blogging about it or dealing with it. Since myoclonic dystonia is so rare, the description is symptomic. Neurologists have little idea what causes it. So when I take drugs, I'm performing experiments on my own brain. Try this one, they say. Let's hope it doesn't mess up the rest of your brain.

The first drug I tried made me burst into tears in grade school. The second I tried made me bipolar. I ran around campus like a madwoman then I'd crashed and I couldn't get out of bed for days. Drugs have improved greatly since then. Scientists have made leaps forward understanding brain chemistry in general and movement disorders in particular. In fact the name movement disorder and my diagnosis was invented by the neurologist who saw me at age 16 when I had my second bad drug experience.

Still I'm terrified to try new drugs. Even though since then I've tried a series of drugs, which, good news, don't affect my mental health, bad news, don't do anything for myoclonic dystonia either. The latest one I'm to experiment with is Haldol, which I know is also prescribed for mental patients. But it also blocks dopamine and can help with Huntington's chorea. Now I'm questioning my own sanity to try this drug. "It's only a pediatric dose," my neurologist reassured me. But the alternative he offered Gabitril sounds even more scary with its risk of causing seizures. Very very minor risk, but I'm still scared.

And I have to keep driving to take Little T to his myriad medical apts. So Haldol, it is. My neurologist suggested taking 1/2 hour before driving. I have no more driving today, but I will make a mental note to fill my prescription before Monday when I have to drive Special K to gymnastics. Logically I know that if he's suggesting I take it before driving that it's basically harmless. Wish me luck.

Technology is not another parent

The Economist has a great article defending videogames, which I agree with. Yesterday C found a link to a Salon article on Schneier's web log about parents using the technology to monitor their children. I bet the same parents who use the spying technology probably won't let their children play violent videogames.

They fall into the trap of what call the omniscience of technology. Somehow technology substitutes for actual thinking and adult supervision. Technology becomes another parent.

In the case of video games, children are seduced by evil videogames into violent behaviour and turned into addicted zombies. The Economist does a good job of pointing out the benefits and that some children may have violent and addictive tendencies to begin with. Children's use of videogames should be monitored. Perhaps some children shouldn't play videogames. We played violent videogames as children and turned out okay. But each child is different, so individual parents, not the government, should be responsible for this monitoring. This same type of argument hold true for any type of technology including spying technology.

Spying technology supposedly provides a benefit, because the technology somehow protects the child. It provides a false sense of security. For the most horrifying events such as kidnapping and sexual abuse, statistically, the greatest threat comes from someone the child already knows. Most accidents and bad events occur within the child's home or familiar stomping grounds.

The best preventions are adult supervision and teaching the child how to avoid such situations, and what to do if the situation occurs. Street smarts, and common sense are necessary skills for adulthood unless the parents plan to watch their children their entire life. Until children develop these skills, adults need to supervise children. I agree with the Schneider that relying on technology rather than other adults to supervise makes your children less safe.

Most strangers are ordinary people and will help a child who's in trouble. Often they'll go out of the way to do so. A few people are dangerous. But technology provides no reliable way to spot these people. You must learn to do that on your own or have your parents help you.

When I was a child, my parents would call the other parents if I was going to someone's house. They would insist on meeting my friends. They would randomly drop by where I said I was going to be. GPS tracking would take care of knowing my location, but dropping by also let my parents know what I was doing and who was supervising. I'm sure GPS tracking can be useful, but I'm far less concerned with where my children are than what they're doing. I'm not prepared to have a video camera on them 24x7. That's too much an invasion of privacy. And I need to let my children learn how to live without my constant supervision.

So I must use the "old fashioned" methods my parents used. I have to talk to other people. I must spot check and provide a safety net as I gradually decrease my supervision. I may use technology to do so, but in the end technology is merely a tool. It can never substitute for me as a parent.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Houston, we have a plot

As I mentioned in an earlier blog entry, when I last wanted to sit down with my novel, 3 of the characters told me that the main plot made no sense. Well, I discovered that it's because what a fourth character wants to do makes little sense, but she has to try in order for her to find out it make no sense.

Some people say to write a description of each character before you write the novel. These characters seem real to me and that's not how I get to know people. It also doesn't make much sense to me since the description would be what the character says about themselves, which is a limited view. How someone sees themselves and how the world sees them can be diametrically different. And the person can have no clue for years until some event happens to break their view of themselves and get them to see a touch of how others see them. Also people are different in different situations. And yes, those are two of the themes of my novel.

I'm not knocking describing characters if it works for you. People have different ways of getting to know their characters. Maybe if I believed in omniscience as an attainable property by humans, I'd be more into the character description deal.

So I thought about what would happen if I put these characters together in the setting I had devised. And I now have the main plot and a plot and character development for each of the main characters. I am a lot closer towards a proposal. It sounds pretty simple. And I don't know why I didn't do it before. I think before I actually sat down and read a few books about writing novels, I thought plot making on a novel scale was some sort of mystical gift denied to me, unworthy writer. Though I've always hated novels where the plot didn't come directly from the character's actions. Of course the devil's in the details as they say, but I feel more comfortable now.

In college, I'd contemplate a 50-page paper with horror before I had a topic. How the hell was I going to fill 50 blank pages with words. Words about what? I knew I'd just get lost in that blinding blank white. Once I had a topic and I got excited about it, I was still scared, but less so. Then I started to research the topic and I was less scared. I had a direction. I had three pages and I knew I could expand it into 50 pages. That's where I am now.

I'm not thinking about how much longer a novel is. I know I can do it. People are much more complicated and interesting than a research topic and I'm writing about people. Also what I've described so far is pretty dense and needs pages and pages to show. In a research paper, you tell the reader, give them the conclusions. That takes less words. Go plot go.

Little things I can't live without & long-term happiness

I made a special trip to Target today to get a little thing I now can't live without. It's a MAM pacifier keeper that attaches the pacifier to Little T's clothing. Why I can't I live without it? Well, I was woken up at 2am, because Little T couldn't get to his pacifier. It had migrated out of his reach. He can only roll once and not that far. Also he can only reach with one arm.

When I clipped the Keeper on him, he grinned hugely at me. I think he missed it too. He likes playing with the cord and being able to put the pacifier in his own mouth.

I bought 3 of them and another set of pacifiers. I don't even care that now I have to get rid of 12 things.

Here are some other little things I can't live without:

  • Tea
  • Milk for my tea
  • Straws - Try drinking tea while your hand jerks and you'll see why.
  • Diapers for the kids, not for me.
  • My Internet calendar to keep track of Little T's myriad apts
  • Fruit
But someone on a mailing list just asked what makes you happy in the long-term sense. Here's my list:
  • Having people to love and adore and who also love and adore me
  • Having friends who are trustworthy and dependable
  • Feeling useful and valued. Most of that comes from me, but I'm not
  • evolved enough not to need some external validation.
  • Intellectual challenge
  • Feeling free to express my whole self and pursue my passions
  • Finding something to laugh about everyday. One of the many things I love about C is that he laughs with me when I make jokes in crises. To me, my life is essentially funny.

None of the items on the first list are on the second list, though I am happier in a local sense if I get more sleep. And the MAM keeper helps me get more sleep.

What little things can't you live without and what makes you happy in a long-term sense? I found it an interesting exercise. I hope you do too.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Dead woman, live baby

Brain-dead US woman has baby girl Very freaky. I'm sure it's right to keep the mother alive for the sake of the child. But then the poor husband has to make tough decisions after that.

351 Dead Babies

Remains of 351 stillborn babies and foetuses have been found in the mortuary room of a well-known hospital in the French capital, Paris. How bizarre and horrifying. And I have the irreverent thought: where did they store them all in a way that it wasn't discovered for years?

First Science fiction story

I just wrote a science fiction story. I surprised myself. I'm supposed to be writing my fiction book proposal, which is about Burma and has no science fiction elements. I had no plans to write any science fiction in the near future. But the ways of procrastination are many. And I really can't fault myself for writing a entire story. I'm pleased with it, but I'm not sure if it's just because it was so unexpected. I need to let it rest a bit.

What inspired me was I read Young Writers on Lorem Ipsum about a list of science fiction writers under 20. Through the list, I found Orbiting by Anthony Ha. And my mind wandered and I wrote my story. My story and his are not really related, except in my mind. But assuming I still like it after a few days, I'll revise it and send it to Asimov's. It's worth a shot.

Monday, August 01, 2005

A difficult day or what I'm doing instead of writing

Little T's having a difficult day. Something makes him scream, cry and writhe. I give him Tylenol and gas drops and hold him and rock him. Sometimes he also wants a little formula too. Eventually he falls asleep. Then he wakes up and the process starts all over again.

My brief attempt at tummy time today resulted in blood curdling screams. Around that time, I needed to go to the bathroom. And I discovered Special K had dumped all the soap out of the soap dispenser that C had carefully filled yesterday. She said cheerfully "I filled it with water." I yelled at her and she said "I'm sorry" in a small voice that fills me with more guilt than anything.

Today I also took both kids to gym. That was good time. Special K loves gym and Little T loves watching his big sister. I want to pause her and say I'm so thankful for the fact that now we can take Little T out to public germy places like a gym. Yesterday when we went to that big 80's party I blogged about, I was so grateful just be able to sit in the sun with him at a party. He cooed and smiled and was generally charming. Then we got home and he started screaming again.

Also today I tried to prevent Special K from swallowing bells, keep her fed with yogurt and applesauce, and heaven help me, ply her with DVDs. I just can't deal with both children properly when Little T gets like this. Special K plays loudly next to him and wakes him up. And I end up yelling again. I think a DVD is better than yelling.

Now Little T's awake and watching Baby Einstein. Special K requested it, but it's really tv designed for babies. The thought scares me, but this is the longest he's been awake all day without screaming. People say well before tv, parents just dealt with it. Before tv, parents weren't home alone. I could hand Little T off to a relative to hold for a while, so I could recharge and regain a little sanity.

I had this beautiful plan that I was going to write more of my Burma fiction book proposal. The grandfather and the daughter are telling me my plot idea makes no sense. The mother is saying that's just because the grandfather doesn't understand. That's interesting. And I want to find out more, but I won't find out until I write more. But our nanny didn't feel well, so had to leave hours early. I did at least talk a little bit about it with a friend.

And now Little T has decided Baby Einstein isn't enough. He's not crying yet, but he's starting to fuss, so I go back to being human pillow.

I hit myself hard

On Saturday I thwacked my left middle and ring finger hard against the inside of my right arm. It really really hurt. My right arm stung for a day. My left fingers still hurt. Hitting myself is a pretty common occurence with my movement disorder, but usually my injuries don't last this long. Please help me feel a bit better. Not schadefreude, but let me know I'm not alone. Please tell me the most interesting or worst way you've injured yourself accidentally. Extra points if other objects were not involved.

A great joke

It mentions sex, so be warned, if some reason, you don't want to be exposed to sex.

Bob's a big hit with the ladies at the nursing home, because there are only a few men. Doris asks Bob out on a date.
Bob: I can't go out on a date with you. I'm going out with Gloria.
Doris: Well, I can take you out another time.
Bob: I'd prefer to go out with Gloria.
Doris: Why?
Bob: Gloria will take me out to dinner.
Doris: I'd be happy to buy you dinner.
Bob: Gloria will take me to a movie afterwards.
Doris: I can take you to a movie.
Bob: Well, Gloria will hold my penis during the movie.
Doris thinks about this minute then says "I can do that too."
Bob: I'd still rather go out with Gloria.
Doris asks frustrated, "What does Gloria got that I don't?"
Bob: Parkinson's