Gimme gimme shock treatment Okay, the melancholy of the morning has been blown into the weeds. I put Tori Amos aside and on a whim put in the Ramones. Talk about a change of pace -- Tori Amos is akin to walking alone through a drab November landscape, while the Ramones are more akin to riding a racebike at high speed on a white hot summer afternoon. It definitely clears the head. Oh, and Dee Dee Ramone was a Reaganite. All the better...
Moving the keys... I'm a fairly big music person. I have no talent to create music whatsoever, but I can appreciate the work of others. Tori Amos is one artist for whom I have immense respect, at least for her music. I know her only through the mask of recorded sound. Her 1991 release "Little Earthquakes" is one of the best CDs I've ever put in a player. The music is consistently good, and drags hard at my heart. This is what I'm listening to right now, even as I type. "Little Earthquakes" allows me to wallow for a little while in the grief, to be subjected to the catharsis that the Greeks believed so important for the audience of tragedy. It's not that my life is tragedy -- it's not. But we all have tragic moments; the loss of a father, a baby, the bittersweet transitions of life. The times when we know things must change, and when we shuffle our feet to a different beat, to a different sound, to a different destination. We must mourn, because we cannot contain our lives completely into ourselves, and it must leak from our souls and spill to the ground, where instead of a bitter poison, it becomes a sweet water that nourishes the seeds of our new future.
Moving to MT... I'm slowly moving the blog to my own hierarchy at the Garage of Xanadu. It's not quite ready yet, but it's getting there.
Welcome to Comrade Kim's Korean Restaurant Welcome to Comrade Kim's North Korean Restaurant. Pay no attention to the razor wire. Please take a seat. We have two specials today, depending upon your preference. First, we have a lovely cutting of fresh grass, served on a plain white plate. If this delicacy is not to your liking, we have an alternative special -- the Blue Plate Special. It consists of a blue plate. No, there is nothing on the plate, that's what makes it special. Do I hear complaints? Then we must beat you, or shoot you. Here at Comrade Kim's we allow no dissent. You will have your Blue Plate Special and be grateful for the generosity of the proprietor. Oh, I am so sorry, but you cannot leave. once you're here, you will stay. The door is locked, the doorman has a rifle, and the front stoop is laced with landmines. There is an exit to the rear, but it only leads to a Chinese restaurant who has also locked their door. They will send you back here if they catch you. And then we will make sure that justice is served, here at Comrade Kim's.
A Loss of Life It's been a couple months, so I guess it's time to write about this. Jessica and I lost a baby around Christmas time. It was an early pregnancy loss, but that does not eliminate the grief and pain. Jessica took the loss hard, understandably so, since she was feeling the changes associated with pregnancy. I was only seeing the external results of physiological interactions. While it was only reality to me, Jessica was living it. We have been trying for a few months. What does that mean? That means that we were tracking her temps, keeping track of days when she might be ovulating and when we were trying to conceive. We were monitoring all the various things recommended by the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility. We were aware of when things were right for the possibility of a pregnancy. The end result was a positive in late November, 2002. We looked carefully at the little purple lines and determined that the results were Good. Huzzah! Jess went to her OB/GYN and got the relevant blood tests, which confirmed the pee strips. They scheduled another test a few days later to determine if the hormone levels were rising at a fast enough rate. In a nutshell, they weren't. More tests followed, with the hormone levels rising, although too slowly to be certain of a good pregnancy. Two ultrasounds showed nothing discernable. It was plausible that the growing baby would not be visible at 6-7 weeks, but at the second ultrasound at eight weeks, something should be visible. Then the hormone levels dropped. Not much, just a smidge, but enough to cause the doctor to discuss the possibility of an ectopic pregnancy, and the ramifications and solutions to such a problem. We weren't certain it was an ectopic, but all signs pointed down that road. The end result was a forced termination. The method was chemical -- a cancer drug called Methotrexane. Methotrexane attacks fast growing cells. It's a liquid, delivered by needle, and in amounts that are astounding. Sometimes, it doesn't work right off, and you need a second or third injection. It gets injected deep into your buttocks, like a gamma globulin. Jess had to endure two sets of two shots each. They left her sore for a day or two, and her HCG levels began to drop rapidly after the second. Her menses returned about two weeks after the second shot. Her HCG levels are dropping slowly to zero, the tide of life receding. It's over. The loss of our first in this way has left Jess scared of future attempts. She's had roughly twenty blood tests over the last three months, and the methotrexane shots caused her a lot of pain, physically and emotionally. She had experienced all the early pregnancy signs. We were talking about the necessary arrangements for the coming baby, and when to tell people. I was in and out of work a lot to provide emotional support for her at all the tests and fianlly for the Methotrexane shots. She cried more than I did, although we both had our tears and sobs for a lost little one. I still hold her a lot to keep the demons at bay. She marks the passage of time relative to the pregnancy -- this week she would have been entering the second trimester. We're wounded. It feels a little like a curse has been placed on us. Jessica is deathly afraid of having to go through the difficulty of an ectopic again, although she is eager to start trying to conceive as soon as the doctor okays it. I'm quietly hopeful. We know that the hardware works, and the chance of a second ectopic is low. That provides hope. Hope, however, can never fill the hole that's been left by the loss of our first.
Battle of the FTPs I'm a cheap bastard. I like freeware, shareware, anything-I-don't-have-to-pay-for-ware. As such, for a long time, I've used WS_FTP for my website maintenance (and blogger for my blog). I just tried the evaluation version of CuteFTP. In the immortal words of Keanu Reeves -- Whoa. I guess I need to buy some software...
Rain and snow, rain and snow... C'mon, weather, make up your mind. I despise this wintery mix crap...
Colin Powell's Theme Song He likes wearin' moustache, He likes French cuisine but we won't let him use his weapons, until he's in a mausoleum. We got him under pressure, We got him under pressure. Nukes in the art museum, bio weapons in the dog. He foams at the mouth to use 'em, Hides his weapons in a London fog. He don't like other leaders, He likes whips and chains. He likes champagne, and beatin' out poor Kurd brains. He is not all we can handle, we're too much for his brain. We got him under pressure, We got him under pressure. We're gonna give him a message, here's what we're gonna say: 'It's all over.' He might get out a nightstick so we'll hurt him real real bad by the roadside in a ditch. We got him under pressure, We got him under pressure. We got him under pressure, We got him under pressure. My sincere apologies to ZZ Top...
Hold Music Have you ever thoguht about why businesses do some of the things they do? Some things that seem to make no sense may perform a function that you never think thye would. This morning I had to call the customer service line for the local newspaper. I recevied a long message telling me that all the service reps were busy and that one would be with me shortly, the typical hold message. The message ended by telling me that it would be followed by silence. Silence. No hold music. Nothing. And silence it was. It was unnerving. Cradling the phone, but listening to nothing. I felt oddly frightened, as though the killer had snipped my only connection to the outside world, to the information services, and now he was coming for ME! Paranoia began to cloud my thoughts. Was he waiting in the supply closet? Around the corner? Was he watching me through the windows, seeing my every move, knowing what I would do next? Was he savoring my fear, drawing energy from my fright? Should I get the knife from the kitchen, see if I could find a gun in a desk? It anyone comes near me, it must be him. He seeks me, strives to take me away. I must strike first! Then the line clicked, and the Customer Service Rep came on the line. My reality snapped back, and the tattered fringes of paranoia smoothed to whole cloth reality again. Hold music, boring as it may be, may serve a deeper purpose. It may save lives, preventing the paranoid and frightened from stepping over the edge. Please, please, please give me some hold music when I'm waiting on the phone. My coworkers demand it.
Dawn I wake in a grey room, with the lights out, and the golden sodium glow of the streetlamps spotting the walls. The dog lifts his head, curious, but not demanding. He rests it again on a paw, his token acknowledgement of my waking complete. I roll to my feet and dress. The sky is dark, rhinestone stars scattered in blue velvet. Through the window, I see it begins. The velvet tears at the edges, leaking light, bleaching away the stars and color. The cloth of night is dragged from our cage by inches, until the sun reveals itself at the edges of the earth, its golden glow spotting the wall. Dawn has come.
Mel Brooks -- My oddball hero... To Be, Or Not To Be, The Producers, History of the World, Pt. I -- In his prime, Mel Brooks has been a force for laughter and humor. Even now, he's still one of the funniest men alive. Mr. Brooks brought something special to the screen, some thing that couldn't have come from anyone else. It was in the Jewish jokes, the subtle and the blatant. It was in the portrayal of the purveyors of Evil -- the Nazis, Toquemada, Ceasar. It was the way everything was subject to ribbing, either harsh or gentle. Mr. Brooks is a big part of the reason I became so aware of Judaism and what Jews had been through. But I didn't learn it as the Horrors of Humanity, I learned Jewish history through the eyes of a sympathetic man with gentle humor. History books told me the events, Mel Brooks showed me the humanity. I later learned about the Holocaust from survivors, and from Jews who fled the Nazis, but Mel Brooks showed me early on that the people who survived history somehow managed to laugh again. It's not that the sorrow isn't there, but rather that it has passed. Some never learned to speak of it. Some wrote their stories. But they all learned to laugh again, even at themselves. Especially at themselves, since they knew where laughing at others could lead. Mel Brooks is all that is great about Judaism. Warmth, humor, love, and integrity. The resilience to come back later and laugh even when the subject is your own lif or death. Thank you, Mr. Brooks.
Shuttle crash... It's not likely to be terrorism. At 200K feet (about 38 miles), and at a velocity of 12,500 mph, there are few missiles that could hit it. The ones that could are huge and require some serious technology. The reports of the insulation striking the wing are not good -- the leading edge of the wing handles a lot of heat, and if a tile failed due to impact, it could lead to the wing getting effectivley burned off as the hot plasma from re-entry vaporizes the structure of the ship. The resulting tumble would cause the resultant loss of the ship. You can't tell much from the videos, but it looks like the ship broke up. If it lost the wing and tumbles, the top tiles wouldn't be able to handle the re-entry heat -- they aren't designed to handle it. Say a prayer for the families of the crew.